Judge rejects Minnesota ISIS suspects' 'combatant immunity' claim

Ayan Mohamed Farah talks to reporters.
Ayan Mohamed Farah talks to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Minneapolis Thursday. Her two sons are facing terror-related charges. To her right is Imam Hassan Mohamud, and Farhiyo Mohamed, mother of defendant Abdirahman Daud.
Doualy Xaykaothao | MPR News

Updated: 4:17 p.m. | Posted: 10:56 a.m.

A federal judge has tossed out arguments made by men in the Minnesota ISIS terror case that they are enemy combatants and so should have conspiracy murder charges against them dismissed.

Farhiyo Mohamed, mother of Abdirahman Daud
Farhiyo Mohamed, mother of defendant Abdirahman Daud, speaks to the media outside the federal district courthouse in Minneapolis on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. She says what's happening to her son is unjust.
Doualy Xaykaothao | MPR News

Four of five men awaiting trial for allegedly trying to join ISIS have argued the court should dismiss conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States charges based on laws of "combatant immunity." They claimed ISIS engages in "lawful combat" and its members are entitled to legal protections allowed to soldiers and other international combatants.

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Combatant status grants immunity from prosecution to armed forces of "belligerents in an armed conflict" at least until or unless they "actually engage in unlawful combat."

Defendants came before Judge Michael J. Davis Thursday morning for a brief hearing on the case. Davis rejected the combatant argument.

"The indictment makes clear that defendants are charged with conspiring with (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, to commit murder," he wrote in his decision, which was filed late Wednesday. "As a result, defendants are being prosecuted only for unlawful acts, not acts that may fall within combatant immunity."

ISIS terror suspects
Five young men accused of trying to join the ISIS terror group are, left to right: Hamza Ahmed, Adnan Farah, Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar.
Courtesy of Hennepin and Anoka County

Hamza Ahmed, Adnan Farah, Guled Omar, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah are set to go to trial May 9.

Mothers of three of the men say their kids are innocent.

Outside the federal courthouse in Minneapolis, Ayan Farah, mother of two of the men facing charges, spoke through an interpreter to tell reporters she was disappointed.

"Our kids are innocent, and they have been attending the colleges, and we don't want to mess up their lives, and we don't want the government to mess up their lives," she said.

Farhiyo Mohamed, the mother of one of the defendants told reporters her son, Abdirahman Daud, was set up by an FBI informant.

"I think it's not fair what they are doing, the government," she said. "He's a good guy, good guy."

Federal prosecutors have charged a total of 10 Minnesota men in plotting to join ISIS. Three have pleaded guilty and one is currently fighting in Syria.

The 10th man, Abdirizak Warsame, was arrested and charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization in December. He changed his plea to guilty Thursday afternoon.