Five young Minneapolis men accused of plotting to join ISIS pleaded not guilty Monday to new charges of conspiring to commit murder overseas.
Amal Daud is an older sister of defendant Abdirahman Daud. She said the family is standing by her brother's decision, even though he could face up to life in prison if convicted. "We hope for the best. We'll see what happens. We don't know what's going to happen [at] trial," she said. "But we'll see his chance."
Prosecutors have offered plea deals twice to one of the men, Adnan Farah, 19, but he's refused.
His mother, Ayan Farah, said she fully supports her son's decision.
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"We're very happy that our sons said they're going to trial. Because we'll find out more about who was behind this," Ayan Farah told MPR News in Somali.
Another of her sons, Mohamed Farah, is also accused of planning to join ISIS.
The case against the men rests largely on the testimony of an informant who was their friend.
The case was initially set to go to trial in February, but it's been rescheduled for May 9 to give defense attorneys additional time to prepare.
ISIS suspect is moved
At Monday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis asked about the jail conditions for one of the defendants, Guled Omar. His attorney, Glenn Bruder, had argued in recent months that Omar was living in "brutal conditions" at the Ramsey County Jail and placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
Bruder told Davis that Omar has now been given two hours a day outside his cell and a vending card to buy items, but "other than that, the conditions are unchanged."
Davis ordered Omar transferred to the Sherburne County Jail.
Last week U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger disputed that Omar was suffering mentally or physically. Luger wrote Friday that authorities had transferred Omar between jails because Omar had tried to contact a government witness who is expected to testify against him after they both ended up at the Anoka County Jail.
Abdullahi Yusuf was the first Twin Cities man to plead guilty in the case. He has been cooperating with federal prosecutors.
So far, three men in the case have pleaded guilty. If they provide substantial assistance to the government, they can increase their likelihood of receiving lower sentences.