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Latest: ISIS trial in Minnesota

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Protesters came out after closing arguments.
Susan Martinson, left, of Women Against Military Madness, and Misty Rowan of the Anti-War Committee join protesters after closing arguments in the ISIS trial at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis May 31.
Courtney Perry for MPR News

Friday, June 3

3 found guilty of trying to join ISIS | 1:33 p.m.

A federal jury has found three men guilty of plotting to join the terror group ISIS and commit murder overseas. 

Guled Omar, 21, and Mohamed Farah, 22, were found guilty on all charges.

Abdirahman Daud, 22, was found guilty on all terror counts, but not guilty of lying to a grand jury. 

Family members sobbed upon hearing the verdicts. Plotting to commit murder overseas is a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The verdict was read amid heavy security around the Minneapolis federal courthouse. Court was remarkably quiet prior to the verdict with people whispering and journalists checking their phones and getting notepads ready.

"You've come back with a fair and just verdict," Judge Michael Davis told the jurors.

The three Somali-Americans were among nine young Minnesota men arrested since 2014 for allegedly plotting to join the terror group in Syria. Six — Abdullahi Yusuf, Zacharia Abdurahman, Hanad Musse, Abdirizak Warsame, Adnan Farah and Hamza Ahmed — pleaded guilty to conspiring to travel to Syria to join the terror group.

Omar, Daud and Mohamed Farah, however, took their cases to an all-white Twin Cities jury in a trial that drew worldwide interest and opened a window onto ISIS' sophisticated propaganda and recruiting techniques.

Their families insisted the men were innocent and never intended to harm their country. During the trial, their defense attorneys portrayed the young men as talkers but not doers — teens caught on tape slamming America and talking big about fighting in Syria but nothing more. 

When prosecutors, for example, played portions of secretly recorded tapes where Omar threatened to kill Turkish security officials he called "freaking pigs," Omar told the court his words were only youthful boasts intended to impress his friends.

"I was trying to sound like a big, bad guy who knows what he's doing," he told the court. "We all boast. Everyone wants to sound more tough."

Beyond trying to join ISIS, the men were accused of plotting to commit murder overseas, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization, a charge that carries up to 15 years in prison.

The case divided Minnesota's Somali-American community. Some leaders argued that the government was overreaching in its anti-terrorism efforts, arresting impressionable young Muslim men who recently graduated from high schools and never left the United States. 

None of the men on trial had previously committed a crime.

The FBI launched its probe in 2014 when reports surfaced about the departures of several Minnesotans believed to have joined radical groups in Syria. Many in the Twin Cities Somali community were shocked at the magnitude of the arrests and charges. 

The community came under scrutiny from law enforcement and the media. Some saw parallels to the arrests of several men six years earlier for attempting to aid the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia and asked how could it happen again.

More reporting to come.

Verdict to be read at 1:30 p.m.

A verdict has been reached in the trial of three Minneapolis men accused of trying to join ISIS. It will be read at 1:30 p.m. More reporting to come.

— Laura Yuen

Day 17: Wednesday, June 1

The 3 key charges: what you need to know | 5 p.m.

A federal jury is now deliberating over the case of three young Minneapolis men accused of trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

The case was handed over to the jurors — seven women and five men — at around 3 p.m. after 17 days of testimony, cross-examination and arguments. They will come back Thursday morning to continue deliberations.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis complimented the attorneys on both sides before leaving the courtroom: "It's a well-tried case," he said.

Mohamed Farah, Guled Omar and Abdirahman Daud are all facing conspiracy to murder outside the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS and attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

In addition, Omar is facing financial aid fraud charge, and Farah and Daud each are charged with perjury. Farah is also facing an additional charge of lying to the FBI.

Below is a breakdown of the three terrorism-related charges and how the jury will decide whether to convict, according to the instructions they received from the judge.

1) Conspiracy to murder outside the United States

This is the most serious charge the men are facing, and it carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following things:

• Two or more people reached an agreement to murder abroad;

• The defendants "knowingly and willingly" entered the conspiracy; 

• And at least one person in the conspiracy committed an "overt act" to further the conspiracy. 

An overt act does not need in itself to be a crime. Prosecutors say it can include applying for passports, making an airline reservation, or downloading a secure messaging app to one's cell phone.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have debated whether the defendants had an "intent to kill." 

The jury instructions say the government must show that the members of the conspiracy willfully intended "to take the life of a human being" or "to act in callous and wanton disregard of the consequences to human life."

2) Conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS

This charge involves the planning involved with helping a terror group. 

To convict the defendants on this charge, the jury must determine that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that two or more people agreed to help ISIS — essentially by offering themselves as fighters — and that the defendants voluntarily and knowingly joined this agreement. 

Among other requirements, prosecutors need to show the men knew that they were going to join ISIS and that the group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization or that it engaged in terrorism.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.

3) Attempting to provide material support to ISIS

This charge is similar to the offense of conspiring to provide material support, but it also requires that the defendants took a "substantial step" toward that crime. That step must be more than just mere preparation. 

The government alleges that each time the defendants traveled — or tried to travel — to California or New York in 2014 and 2015, they committed this offense. But the defendants had different explanations of what led them to travel.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Defense attorney to jury: Don't let race, terrorism fear guide you  | 1:15 p.m.

Defense attorney Glenn Bruder told jurors to set aside their fear of terrorism and prejudice when they make a decision about the fate of his client, Guled Omar.

Before he concluded his closing arguments, Bruder talked about what he called the "elephant in the room: That's the notion of fear." 

Throughout the trial, the government showed jurors horrific ISIS propaganda videos of killings and beheadings. "Watching those videos doesn't make you a criminal," Bruder said.  

The government's "information panders to the fear we feel about terrorism and the concern we feel about our personal safety," he said. 

Bruder noted his client, as a Muslim and Somali-American, is different from the all-white jury. Bruder said Omar should be judged "as if he were a kid from Edina or Wayzata," he said. 

He attacked the credibility of the government's star witnesses: Abdullahi Yusuf, who's pled guilty, and FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir, who was paid more than $100,000 for aiding federal authorities. 

"He had 119,000 reasons to lie to you," Bruder said of Bashir's government payments. 

Bruder showed transcripts of conversations made by Bashir that were not played in courtroom. He quoted Omar turning down Bashir's fake passport scheme.

Omar told Bashir, the informant, he didn't want to be "another statistic" by dying in Syria.  

"That's Allah's decree," Bashir said. 

"That's not Allah's decree," Omar responded. "Allah doesn't command me to go halfway across the world and martyr myself." 

In her rebuttal argument, U.S. Assistant Attorney Julie Allyn said the defendants were determined to travel to Syria.

She listed the names of several men, who were friends with the defendants, on a face chart who left Minnesota for Syria. 

"This is real," she said. "Men have gone to Syria." 

"It's not a group of men who just sat around and never took actions," Allyn said. "These are grown men capable of making a decision. They chose ISIL and decided to go fight for ISIL."

And with that, the defense and prosecutors concluded their closing arguments. Jurors are expected to start deliberating as early as this afternoon.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 16: Tuesday, May 31

Defense attorneys: Government failed to prove men planned to murder | 8:30 p.m.

"Is watching an ISIL video an agreement to kill anyone or provide material support?" Murad Mohammad, attorney for Mohamed Farah, began in closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. "Is wanting to die as a martyr, no matter how unsavory that may be to accept, a crime?"  

Mohammad pressed the jurors to think about the charges the three defendants, Farah, 22, Guled Omar, 21, and Abdirahman Daud, 22, face. The government had gone to great lengths to prove that some of the men watched ISIS propaganda videos, he said. But Mohammad added that watching videos, even those as horrific and gruesome as the ones ISIS puts out, is not a crime. 

  Mohammad told the court Farah wasn't trying to join ISIS, but left because he knew the FBI was closing in on him. The attorney added Farah wanted to go to the Middle East to become a martyr, presumably with any number of groups involved in the Syrian conflict at the time.  

When he talked about the Syrian conflict, Mohammad said the defendants never got together and agreed to become terrorists.   

  "These kids got together because they wanted to fulfill a humanitarian goal," Mohammad said.

  Prosecutors say Farah and Daud drove to California to buy fake passports that would help them leave the country.

    Attorneys for the two men say their clients' plans to leave would have been impossible if FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir hadn't talked them into taking part in the passport scheme.  

Mohammad said Farah was "immature" and his reaction to videos didn't amount to conspiring to kill or helping a terrorist group.

  "ISIL never contacted my client," he said, using an alternative set of initials for ISIS. "My client never contacted ISIL."

  Bruce Nestor, attorney for Daud, said he wasn't going to deny that his client said troubling things on tape. But he denied Daud had murder on his mind.   

"Do young men mean everything they say, particularly when they're in a group of other young men?" he asked. 

  "I don't want Daud to suffer prejudice because the government has played grotesque videos of ISIS. I don't want Daud to suffer prejudice because this is supposed to be a terrorism trial," Nestor said.

  The defense attorney turned most of his attention to the three key government witness who testified against their former friends.

  He said Abdullahi Yusuf couldn't separate "fact from fiction." Abdirizak Warsame gave "leading, tainted testimony," and Bashir was a "true believer" who was "paid to switch his allegiance to the FBI and facilitate the arrest of Abdirahman Daud and others."   

Yusuf and Warsame have since pleaded guilty to conspiring to join ISIS. Nestor displayed trial transcripts as he aimed to show Yusuf contradicted himself on the stand.

  He said his client was just a "talker" and not someone who had the commitment to kill someone as a member of a terrorist organization.

  Daud had a "religious zealotry," said Nestor, adding that his client dreamed of living in a place where Muslims could practice their faith freely.  

Fear of law enforcement and a desire to impress his friends also contributed to Daud's state of confusion, Nestor said.   

He urged jurors to evaluate each defendant separately.

  Glenn Bruder, attorney for Omar, will give his closing arguments Wednesday at 9 a.m. 

Prosecutors will then offer their rebuttal, followed by jury instruction. Jurors could start deliberating as early as Wednesday afternoon.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Prosecutor: Defendants' own words enough to convict them | 1:10 p.m.

The three young Somali-American men on trial made "exceptionally persistent efforts" to travel to Syria to join "an exceptionally violent terrorist organization," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty said Tuesday during the prosecution's closing arguments.

Guled Omar, 21, along with Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, both 22, "participated wholeheartedly" in the three phases of the conspiracy, which started in the spring of 2014 and culminated with the arrest last year of the three men and three others who have since pled guilty, Docherty told jurors.

Docherty repeatedly used testimonies from Abdirizak Warsame and Abdullahi Yusuf, two men who were part of the conspiracy but pled guilty and agreed to testify against their former friends. 

He defended their credibility and told jurors their testimonies were "consistent" with the evidence heard at trial.

Docherty also extensively used transcripts of audio recordings made by FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir, which he said provides a "fly-on-the-wall view of this conspiracy."

"These three defendants convict themselves with the words that come out of their own mouths," he said.

Omar, Farah and Daud are charged with several counts, including conspiracy to commit murder abroad, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if the men are convicted. 

Just months before the men were arrested in April 2015, Bashir told the group he had a contact who could provide fake passports for travel to Syria.

Docherty told jurors to dismiss the entrapment argument because the men "were simply given an opportunity to do what they have long yearned to do, what they have long itched to do," with or without the informant.

"If you disagree with me," he said, "the tapes are still there."

Docherty showed jurors frames from an ISIS propaganda videos which showed fighters executing people and throwing them into a river. The videos formed "the diet" of the defendants, informed the men, and helped show their intent, he said.

"A new ISIL propaganda video is like a new blockbuster movie," Docherty said. "They talk, they talk, they talk." 

Docherty wrapped up his closing arguments by urging jurors to return a guilty verdict "to all counts, guilty to all defendants."

Defense attorneys will begin their closing arguments this afternoon.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Closing arguments to begin | 6:16 a.m.

Closing arguments in the nation's largest ISIS trial begin Tuesday morning in Minneapolis.  

It's the last big step before a jury decides whether to convict three young men on charges of trying to join one of the most brutal terrorism groups in the world. 

Here's a recap as the trial enters its fourth week: 

  Guled Omar, 21, Abdirahman Daud, 22, and Mohamed Farah, 22, have all been charged with a number of terrorism-related crimes. The most serious is conspiracy to commit murder overseas, and it carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

Prosecutors say starting in early 2014, Omar, Daud and Farah were part of a group of about a dozen young men who were planning to travel to Syria and join the terrorist group ISIS. 

One of the most gripping accounts came from the guy who everyone was waiting to hear from: the confidential FBI informant. Abdirahman Bashir was on the stand for five days.  

Back in 2014, Bashir was part of this circle of friends, and wanted to go to Syria to join ISIS himself. Bashir had four cousins who actually had done just that. He talked about how some of those cousins radicalized him, and he also explained how he came to work for the FBI. He wore a hidden microphone and taped his friends — and those tapes became the centerpiece of the government's case against the three men on trial.

  Family and friends of the three men on trial saw this as a betrayal, and some have gone so far to say he entrapped his own buddies. Bashir even broke down on the stand when he recalled how he's been shunned. He said even his own relatives told their sons to stay away from him after his friends were arrested. 

Bashir said all the stress and isolation gave him anxiety attacks.

  But the big news last week was when Omar, the alleged leader of the group, decided to testify in his own defense. He was the only witness called by the defense.

The first day of his testimony was remarkable. He was confident and charismatic, and his testimony was very powerful. Recall that prosecutors had painted him as a relentless wannabe fighter, who never stopped trying to join ISIS. They said his plan was to get to California, cross the border into Mexico and then make it to Syria from there. 

Omar gave very different accounts of why he was trying to leave. One time, he said it was to meet a girl he found online. He said his failed trips to California were not a precursor to get to Mexico and then to the Middle East.  

The prosecution was very prepared in their cross-examination. Andrew Winter, an assistant U.S. attorney, was armed with a lot of evidence. The most damaging piece was Omar's own words. Winter played numerous tapes of Omar saying things like he wanted to kill security guards at the Turkish-Syrian border, or that he was planning to find travel documents and go to Mexico. 

But on the second day of testimony, Omar sounded like a completely different man. His voice was much softer and he was forced to admit he said those words. He explained that he was bragging to impress his friends, and that he really didn't mean what he said.  

So what does the government need to prove for a jury to find the three guilty?

  The defendants are facing a number of terrorism-related charges, and each one has different standards. For example, under the terror-conspiracy charge, the government needs to show that beyond a reasonable doubt, the men agreed to be part of this plot to help a foreign terrorist organization. As is the case with the other terror-related charges, it doesn't matter that they never left the country.  

There's also the idea that these men were entrapped by the friend who became an informant. The judge in this case has told the jury that they must reject the entrapment defense if the government shows that the defendants were willing to commit the crimes charged before the FBI started using the informant.

— Laura Yuen

Day 15: Friday, May 27

Recordings reveal Omar's wish to fight in Syria | 7:30 p.m.

His own voice became his enemy.  

"I was supporting the Dawlah [ISIS] really hard."  

"We could have been sitting in a restaurant in Sham [Syria] right now."

  "I'm sick of this place bro."

  During a second day of testimony, Guled Omar was confronted by secret recordings made by his former friend, Abdirahman Bashir, who switched sides and decided to work for the government as an informant.  

Omar, 21, was the only one on trial to take the stand. On Friday, he answered the prosecutor's questions in a voice much quieter than his often animated, confident recounting of events Thursday.  

"We're planning to go to Mexico and trying to find travel documents," he said in one of the recordings.

  "Shaytan [Satan]," he said, "is trying to put doubts in my head."

  "Allah does everything for a reason."

  Omar failed or withdrew from all of his classes in the spring semester of 2014, except beginning Arabic, according to his transcript from Minneapolis Community and Technical College and presented as evidence.

"Isn't it true that the only reason why you went to school was to learn Arabic and get $5,000" in financial aid to finance travel to Syria? Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter asked.  

"Who said that?" Omar shot back.

On Thursday, Omar testified that he was going to California in May 2014 for vacation as a reward for a good first year in college, not to travel abroad as prosecutors maintain.  

On the stand Friday, he said threats made on secretly recorded tapes to kill Turkish security officials he called "freaking pigs" were nothing more than youthful boasts intended to impress his friends.

  "Did you say those words?" Winter asked.  

"Yes," responded Omar, in a low, quiet voice. "I said those words."

  "I was trying to sound like a big, bad guy who knows what he's doing," he told the court. "We all boast. Everyone wants to sound more tough."  

Omar blamed Abdirahman Daud for rushing Mohamed Farah, Zacharia Abdurahman, Hanad Musse and Hamza Ahmed to travel abroad. They were stopped at New York's JFK airport in November 2014.  

Abdurahman, Musse and Ahmed have since pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Farah is on trial with Daud and Omar.  

"I was so mad at [Daud]," said Omar in one of the recordings. "If it wasn"t for him, Hanad, Zach, Mohamed Farah, all of us wouldn't be in this position we are in right now."

  In one of the last recordings Winter played for the jurors, Omar talked about sharing the route he would take to Syria with ISIS fighters so they could come back to the U.S. through Mexico.

  "They already look Mexican," Omar said. "They're Arab.

"Imagine what they could do? They will do crazy damage. [By God], we have a big opportunity."

Closing arguments are expected to start Tuesday, as the trial enters its fourth week.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim, Laura Yuen

Day 14: Thursday, May 26

'I felt the whole world was on top of me' | 10:50 p.m.

When her eldest son suddenly left the family, Guled Omar's mother was in agony.

"This killed my mom every night," Omar said. "She prayed for him every night. She asked God to guide him every night."  

Omar's voice, firm through most of the testimony, cracked. He began to cry.

"My brother was everything that my mom wanted," Omar added.

"My mom woke up at night," Omar said in a low voice, difficult to hear in the crowded courtroom.

Several women in the court gallery sobbed and left the courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis stopped Omar's testimony. He told jurors to take a few minutes so that Omar could compose himself.

In a trial marked by tension and outbursts, Omar gave perhaps the most emotional testimony so far. The 21-year-old Omar, Mohamed Farah, 22, and Abdirahman Daud, 22, are charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and to commit murder overseas. The three are being tried together.

Only Omar decided to take the witness stand after the government rested its case Thursday morning. 

Omar testified that the FBI informant, Abdirahman Bashir, approached him several times in early 2015 to convince him to join a fake passport scheme. The informant told Omar that other men in the alleged conspiracy had provided their photos and he was about to send them to his contact in San Diego. Farah and Daud were arrested last year after they drove to southern California with Bashir.

Bashir gave Omar a week to make a decision, Omar said.

"That week was the hardest week of my life," Omar testified, "because I felt like I had to make a decision between my family and my religion and beliefs and my fears."

Eventually, Omar said he decided against supplying his photo and a down payment to the informant.

"I told him I had to make a decision between my mom, my sisters and my family," Omar said. "I could not see myself putting my mom through what she went through once before."

In 2007, Omar's older brother, Ahmed Ali Omar, became one of the first Somali-American men from the Twin Cities to join the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia. Omar said his brother never came back to the family after he went to the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey Muslims are required to make if they can afford it.

The informant, Bashir, told Omar that if he went to Syria for the sake of Allah, God will bring blessings to his family. 

Omar's attorney, Glenn Bruder, asked if God blessed Omar's family when his brother Ahmed joined al-Shabab.

"No," Omar said. "It ruined my family."

Throughout his three hours of testimony, Omar described how he met several men in the alleged conspiracy — family, schools, neighborhoods, and basketball were common themes — and offered his recollection of events that led to his arrest in April 2015. 

In May 2014, when he was 19, Omar, Yusuf Jama and Bashir planned to drive to California. But after Omar placed his luggage in the rental vehicle, a family member confronted him and the group was forced to abandoned their travel plans.

Seven months later, Omar tried to travel from Minneapolis to San Diego but was stopped at the airport and not allowed to board the plane.

Prosecutors allege that both times Omar was planning to go to Syria to join ISIS. But Omar explained in his testimony that he wanted to go on vacation in May after he finished his first year of college. In November, he wanted to get together with a girl he met online.

Earlier in 2014, Omar said he became interested in the Syrian conflict after one of his friends, Abdullahi Yusuf, convened the men in the group at his house. In that same month, Yusuf's best friend, Hanad Mohallim, left for the Middle East and, authorities believe, joined ISIS.

Omar, who was into sports, social media, music, going to parties and chasing girls, became concerned about Muslims in Syria. He said it reminded him of his family's own experiences fleeing Somalia's civil war in early 1990s. His father, who lost a leg in the war, suffered from psychological problems and eventually left the family.

The group of his friends continued to meet through 2014 and early 2015. In the spring of 2015, Omar said he was the leader, or "emir," of a religious study group of Muslim friends. Omar explained that being called emir doesn't necessarily mean that one has a full control of the group, as prosecutors alleged. "It was more like a class leader," he said.

In his testimony, Omar went hard after informant Bashir. 

Omar said Bashir was the one who planted the idea of fighting jihad in Syria. Bashir's four cousins were fighting for ISIS, including Mohallim, whom Bashir drove to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

When Omar asked Bashir why he did not go to Syria, Bashir told him: 'Maybe Allah left me for a reason.'

In December 2014, Bashir appeared in front of a federal grand jury. When the two met again, he told Omar that the FBI was interested in him, leaving the impression that federal agents believed Omar was the recruiter.  

Omar said he "felt paranoid."

In September 2014, during a meeting with friends at a Minneapolis mosque, his friend Abdullahi Yusuf received a text from his attorney warning him that he would be arrested. 

After he got the text, friends told Yusuf that it would be best to leave the United States. But Omar was the only one who advised Yusuf to stay, according to Omar and testimony from other government witnesses.

Yusuf told the group they would be next.

"I felt like every day someone was going to break into my house and snatch me away from my family," Omar said. 

Omar started seeing FBI agents following him around. 

"I felt the whole world was on top of me," Omar said.

In January 2015, after Bashir became informant, he invited Omar to smoke marijuana and asked: "What if I could get us out of here?"

Bashir then approached Omar with the idea to find fake passports in California.

"If you want to leave, this is your way to go," the informant told Omar. "You're not going to have a chance like this again."

Omar said he was torn.

"I was having a fight between two sides of me: One saying you're going down, you're going to go to prison," he said. "The other side saying you haven't done anything wrong."

Omar said he heard from friends that the FBI was showing them his photos.

"I started asking myself questions like, 'Why are you running? Why are you trying to leave? What crime have I committed?' " Omar said. "I was feeling like I committed a crime but I know I hadn't committed a crime."

When he thought back on why his brother left the country, Omar said: "Now, in this time, I feel like I'm in a position that he was in and I was confused about what to do."

Omar's testimony will resume Friday morning. 

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

In dramatic turn, defendant to speak in his own defense | 1:30 p.m.

Guled Omar, one of the three young Somali-American men accused of plotting to join ISIS, has decided to take the witness stand in his defense Thursday afternoon.

"I would like to exercise my constitutional right to testify," Omar told U.S. District Judge Michael Davis. 

Omar, 21, who stayed alert throughout the trial by taking notes and attentively following testimonies, is the only one among the three defendants who will testify.

Defense attorneys have decided not to call any other witnesses. The government called more than 20 witnesses to testify in the trial, now in its 14th day.

Prosecutors accuse Omar of being the "emir," or leader, of a group of young men who conspired to travel to Syria to join ISIS. They allege Guled Omar first tried to travel to Syria to join ISIS in May 2014, when he was 19. 

Glenn Bruder, attorney for Omar, said his client did not take up an offer from FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir, who told the group he had a contact who could provide fake passports for travel to Syria. 

Omar told the informant that he would be "another statistic" if he died fighting for ISIS.

Omar had drained his college financial aid account in the weeks leading up to his trip. According to a friend who became a confidential informant for the FBI, Omar, Yusuf Jama and the informant planned to drive to California and make their way to Syria from there. 

But after Omar placed his luggage in the rental vehicle, his family members confronted him, and the group was forced to abandon their travel plans.

In November 2014, Omar tried to travel from Minneapolis to San Diego but was stopped at the airport and not allowed to board the plane.

Omar graduated from high school in Minneapolis and worked as a security guard to fund his education at a local community college, according to his attorney.

The government rested its case Thursday morning. Prosecutors called three witness who briefly testified in their involvement in investigating the three men on trial: Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud.

A San Diego police officer who went by the name "Miguel" and worked undercover with FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir testified about providing fake passports to Daud and Farah and agreeing to buy Daud's car. Miguel did not say his full name on the stand.

Bashir, who wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS before agreeing to work for the government, secretly recorded the defendant's conversations. 

Bashir said he provided a contact for the fake-passport supplier. Bashir called the fake passport scheme "the golden ticket."

Prosecutor Andrew Winter showed a video of the arrest of Daud and Farah. A SWAT team fired  flash-bang grenades into a warehouse where the men picked up their fake passport. 

Mothers of the defendants in the courtroom looked away when they saw the smoke in the warehouse. Other family members in the gallery could be heard muttering.

Video showed Daud, Farah and the informant cowering for safety. About 12 SWAT officers pointed their guns at the men and later arrested them.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 13: Wednesday, May 25

Mom stands by son as he testifies against friends | 7 p.m.

No matter the fallout, Deqa Hussen said one thing's for sure: She's proud of her son.

Abdirizak Warsame, 21, Hussen's eldest boy, is a key witness for the government. On Wednesday, he finished testifying against three friends accused of trying to join ISIS. Hussen said as a Muslim, she raised her children to own up to their mistakes and not hide behind lies.

"He said, 'I'm going to tell the truth,'" Hussen said Wednesday afternoon, recalling the moment her son decided to plead guilty to his role in the conspiracy. "I told him, 'I'll support whatever you do.' My son is a very brave man."

But hours earlier, one of her children turned against her in a heated altercation just as Abdirizak Warsame was scheduled to resume his testimony.

Hussen's 19-year-old daughter, Sahra Warsame, shouted at her mom and at federal agents trying to subdue her. Hussen said Sahra acted angrily after Hussen asked her to sit beside her in the courtroom gallery.

"I told her to come sit with us," Hussen said. "She's my daughter."

Sahra Warsame was handcuffed and taken away.

Hussen said her children are friends with the siblings of the three men on trial. In fact, Sahra Warsame had dated one of the defendants, Abdirahman Daud, until his arrest in April 2015, her brother testified Wednesday.

Abdirizak Warsame pled guilty to conspiring to help ISIS in February. As part of the plea deal, he avoided a more serious charge that carried a possible penalty of life in prison. 

Warsame admitted that it felt "strange" that he was charged eight months after his friends were arrested in April 2015, though he was part of the group that allegedly wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS — and for a few weeks was their leader.

"I don't know why I was arrested later," he said.

Since Warsame pleaded guilty, his mom, Deqa Hussen, said she's stopped frequenting Somali malls because of the harassment she's faced. People in her community have called both her and her son a snitch, she said. 

"I feel emotional. I feel terrified. I don't deserve this," she said. "Why is someone bullying me because my son testified? This is America. This isn't back home."

On the witness stand, Abdirizak Warsame detailed why he wanted to fight and kill for ISIS in Syria. While he was being cross-examined by a defense attorney, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis took over the questioning to press harder into what triggered Warsame's passion for jihad.

"What attracted me the most was the reward you would get," Warsame replied.

He said he felt he wanted to attain the highest level of martyrdom, and if he died as a martyr while fighting for ISIS, he could save himself and his family from "the hellfire." 

Warsame said he believed even if his family went to hell, his deeds could pluck them out and take them to heaven.

Twice, Davis asked him if anyone in Warsame's family practiced jihad. The answer, both times, was no. Warsame said he never learned about jihad at mosques or at Islamic school, except for in a historical context.

When ISIS declared its so-called caliphate in June 2014, Warsame sensed the end of time was near: "It was better to hurry up and get to the land of the caliphate faster," he said.

But Warsame said he aspired to be a martyr even before ISIS became prominent and its propaganda videos became readily available online.

He recalled being inspired by the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki. The alleged al-Qaida leader, who was killed in a U.S.-led drone strike, spoke of a final battle, in which a group defending Muslims would emerge from Sham, a historic name for broader Syria and surrounding regions, carry a black flag, and establish a caliphate.

"When I saw that all this fighting was happening in Syria," Warsame testified, "I listened back to that lecture and sort of saw it as a prophecy that was unveiling itself."

And, he said, an ISIS video showing killing of a Jordanian pilot touched him. "That kind of me made me rethink a lot of things," he said.

In June 2014, FBI agents approached Abdirizak Warsame as he played basketball at a gym. They handed him a subpoena to appear before a grand jury. 

Concerned, Warsame's mother, Deqa Hussen, sent her son to Chicago the next month to live with his father.

But Warsame said that did not deter him to keep plotting to join ISIS. "I knew I was being watched as a suspect," he testified in court Tuesday.

Warsame also said that months earlier, in early 2014, he accompanied Abdi Nur the day he received his passport.  

"He was happy," Warsame testified. "He said that this was his ticket to heaven."

Nur left Minneapolis for Syria in May 2014. 

Warsame believes Nur died, but he's not clear how. Nur's death has not been confirmed by federal authorities.

— Laura Yuen and Mukhtar Ibrahim

 Family tensions erupt again; judge banishes 1 man from court | 11 a.m.

The trial continues to divide families as witnesses testify against former friends. Those divisions boiled over publicly again Wednesday morning.

The mother and sister of a cooperating witness ended up in a confrontation just as 21-year-old Abdirizak Warsame was to take the stand again and continue testifying against his ex-friends.

The outburst also resulted in a friend of one of the defendants being barred from the courtroom for the remaining days of the trial.

Sahra Warsame, 19, the sister of Abdirizak, was shouting in the hallway minutes before the 13th day of the trial was to begin. 

Her mother, Deqa Hussen, told her she had to leave, and investigators with the FBI's joint terrorism task force tried to separate the two. Sahra Warsame shouted obscenities at the officers, and her mom swatted at Sahra's face.

Another brother tried to intervene, telling the men, "Don't touch my sister! Just let me take care of it." 

Authorities eventually handcuffed Sahra, and within moments, a couple of female deputy marshals were on the scene. 

Sahra could be heard shouting that her mother wanted to sit next to her brother, someone Sahra said she could not support. 

Abdirizak Warsame testified Wednesday that  Sahra was dating Abdirahman Daud, one of the defendants, since 2014 up until April 2015 when Daud was arrested on charges of plotting to join ISIS.

The altercation underscores the divisiveness within the Somali-American community — and within one family — as Warsame and two other friends offer evidence against their peers in a high-profile terrorism trial. 

Daud, Guled Omar and Mohamed Farah are accused of plotting to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

After the dispute, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis banned Omar's friend Burhan Mohumed from attending the trial. 

Mohumed said he was trying to break up the fight when deputy marshals detained him and demanded his name. He declined to provide it, and objected to having his picture taken. 

Earlier, Davis had instructed the marshals to photograph and identify anyone involved with disturbances during the trial.

Davis summoned Mohumed, who was dressed in a white T-shirt and slouchy camo-print shorts. The judge was not swayed by Mohumed's explanation of trying to deescalate the fight.

"You have an attitude, and I can get one, too," Davis said, staring down Mohumed.

"No disrespect, sir," Mohumed replied.

Davis ordered marshals to have him fingerprinted, photographed and released. 

But then just a moment later, the judge asked them to fetch Mohumed again after learning Mohumed had been removed from the trial on three occasions. 

Mohumed said he was asked to leave, and did so, after he was caught using his phone in the trial's overflow room. 

Davis said the prior incidents, along with Mohumed's "attitude," prompted him to ban him from the federal courthouse in Minneapolis for the duration of the trial.

"If you come back in, you'll be trespassing and be arrested," the judge said. 

It's not the first time emotions among friends and family members of the defendants have flared during the trial. 

On Tuesday, Judge Davis issued a stern warning to the mother of Abdirahman Daud after Warsame's mom, Deqa Hussen, said the woman threatened to kill Hussen on a lunch break. 

Daud's mother, Farhiyo Mohamed, vehemently denied making any threats toward Hussen. 

Hussen's son, Abdirizak Warsame, has pled guilty to conspiring to join ISIS. 

Before he was arrested, his mother pleaded with Somali-American parents to work with federal authorities to stamp out the threat of ISIS recruitment. 

— Laura Yuen and Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 12: Tuesday, May 24

 Families clash as key witness takes stand | 9 p.m.

Tensions between families are simmering in a Minneapolis federal courtroom, where three young man are on trial for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.

Before her son took the stand Tuesday afternoon, Deqa Hussen, mother of cooperating witness Abdirizak Warsame, told reporters that she was threatened by the mom of one of the three men on trial. 

The confrontation started at lunch break in front of the court building's cafeteria, near the main entrance. That's about the only part of the incident the mothers agree on. 

Hussen remembers talking with the grandmother of one of the defendants, Abdirahman Daud. The grandmother asked Hussen why she didn't greet her. Hussen said the two families are "kind of related." Before Daud was arrested, he was dating Deqa Hussen's daughter.

But Daud's mother, Farhiyo Mohamed, said she heard Hussen saying to her mother: "This woman has bad manners." 

Mohamed said she got upset and started arguing with Hussen. 

However, Hussen's version of what happened is different.

"I wasn't saying anything bad to her mother," Hussen said, and added Mohamed "was very angry...and used bad words."

"The only thing I said was, 'If you are a good person you could have helped your son to get away from this situation,' Hussen recalled telling Daud's mother.

  Hussen said Mohamed accused her of being a "snitch" who came to the court "to support a snitch."

And then Hussen said she heard something that made her "nervous." 

"I will see you and I will kill you," Hussen said Mohamed told her. 

Outside the court building, Mohamed denied threatening Hussen and said she was surprised that Hussen made the situation a "big deal."

"I never said I will kill her," Mohamed said. "This is a big case. We don't want to create a distraction." 

Earlier in the day, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis issued a stern warning to Mohamed. During a break, he walked over to her in the courtroom gallery and placed his hand on his heart, which is a common Islamic courtesy. He then told her he would not allow her to confront anyone else.

Federal authorities escorted Hussen to her car after court adjourned for the day.

Prosecutors are expected to rest their case Wednesday. Hussen's son, Abdirazak Warsame, will continue testifying tomorrow.

This is not the first time during the high-profile trial that families of defendants and witnesses have clashed.

In day five of the trial, tension erupted in the courtroom as government witness Abdullahi Yusuf mentioned names of defendants when he was testifying. A man sitting within earshot of Yusuf's mother called her son a "spy."

Sahra Hudle reacted to the man's remarks and began talking. A court security guard removed Hudle and the man from the courtroom.

Yusuf got emotional after seeing his mom ejected.

"Are you OK to continue?" Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty asked.

"Can I have a little break?" Yusuf said.

Davis later apologized to Hudle. 

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

 'Our last and only chance'| 3 p.m.

Shortly after he started working for the FBI, Abdirahman Bashir told a group of his friends that he could get an unregistered AK-47 and had access to arsenal.

  During his fifth day of testimony, Bashir, who wanted to travel to Syria before he started to secretly record his friends' conversations, said the FBI had allowed him to promote acts of violence among his friends, including the act of joining ISIS in Syria.

  Bashir, 20, said he also dissuaded friends from acquiring guns and carrying out attacks domestically. "I'd have to discourage that so nobody got hurt," he said.  

Six of Bashir's friends were arrested in April 2015 on charges of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Three of them have since pleaded guilty. 

The remaining defendants — Guled Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud — are on trial, and Bashir testified against them.

  Bashir's recordings of his friends were among the most damaging pieces of evidence prosecutors have presented in the trial so far.

  During a cross-examination by Bruce Nestor, Daud's attorney, the informant admitted that his younger brother, Hamsa Bashir, had also wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

  But Bashir never recorded Hamsa's conversations, and the brothers were not charged in the case.

  When Bashir's friends expressed fear of getting arrested, he told the group he had found someone who could provide fake passports. His friends knew they were under FBI surveillance, Bashir said.

  In March 2015, when some in the group wanted to delay their alleged travels to Syria, the informant told defendant Omar: "This is our last and only chance, bro."

  "You have too much doubt," Bashir told Omar. "You need to rely on Allah."

  In conversations with his friends, Bashir called the fake passport scheme "the golden ticket."  

Nestor questioned the informant about his role in supplying fake passports that the young men could use to leave the country. Bashir also worked with the FBI to arrange for someone to purchase Daud's car. 

  "Was that part of your deception?" Nestor asked Bashir.

  "Yes," Bashir responded.

  Bashir said he provided a contact for the fake-passport supplier, but he didn't come up with the scheme. The group had discussed the fake passport idea for a while, he testified.

  "Until you came along with the golden ticket, nobody had the connection to fake passports," Nestor said.  

But Bashir maintained that the group was already well on its path to join ISIS before he decided to cooperate with the FBI.

  "Did you help or encourage anyone in the case who hadn't already expressed a desire to travel to join ISIS?" prosecutor Andrew Winter asked the informant.

  "No," Bashir replied.

  Defendants Farah and Daud were arrested in San Diego in April 2015 after traveling with Bashir to visit a man they believed would provide the fake passports. As it turned out, he was an undercover agent for the FBI.

  Details of Bashir's friendship with FBI Special Agent Carson Green also emerged in his testimony. About a week after Bashir appeared before a grand jury in December 2015, he followed up on Green's offer to talk. He agreed to become an informant for the FBI.

  The agency paid for Bashir's phone and cable bills, car insurance, and college tuition. His first payment from the FBI was $300 and at its highest point was $4,000. Bashir met with the FBI and prosecutors 10 times in April in preparation for his testimony.

  Green, who addressed Bashir as "bud" or "bro" in text messages, bought Bashir 731 meals, often asked about his family, and said, 'We miss you," Bashir testified. At one point, he asked Green if he could list him as a reference for a job with the San Diego police department.

  Bashir told Nestor, Daud's attorney, that his goal is to find a career in law enforcement.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 11: Monday, May 23

 FBI informant: 'I've lied and committed crimes'| 9:00 p.m.

He has remained an enigma ever since terror recruitment concerns surfaced in Minnesota's Somali community several years ago.

  Defense attorneys in the case of three men accused of conspiring to join ISIS have been trying to find out more about Amir Meshal as they cross-examine witnesses who come to testify against their former friends.

  Two government witnesses said in the federal courtroom in Minneapolis that Meshal met with several young men, many of whom were charged with plotting to join ISIS. The group came to Meshal's house and broke fasting days there.

  Abdirahman Bashir, who attempted to join ISIS before he became an FBI informant, said he asked agents about Meshal because he didn't trust him.

  "Did he work for you guys?" he recalled inquiring.  

Bashir testified agents told him no, and that they wanted him "behind bars."   The FBI said Meshal was a "bad guy," Bashir testified.

  Meshal, a 33-year-old Egyptian-American originally from New Jersey, had been banned from at least two suburban mosques in Minnesota over concerns about his influence on young people, but he was never charged with a crime.

Meshal has consistently said through his attorneys that he would never encourage anyone to fight for a group killing innocent people, nor would he provide such groups with money or support. He said he's also declined multiple offers from the FBI to become an informant in exchange for taking him off the no-fly list. 

  Abullahi Yusuf, a government witness who was the first to plead guilty in the conspiracy, said he met Meshal in the spring of 2014 at Al-Farooq Youth & Family Center in Bloomington.  

Both Yusuf and Bashir said Meshal was close to Abdi Nur, an ISIS fighter who left Minneapolis in May of 2014.

  Meshal had "radical views," Yusuf testified on May 16, adding that at the time, "our views aligned."

But neither Bashir nor Yusuf suggested Meshal was to blame for the group's radicalization or desire to fight for ISIS.

In his fourth day of testimony, Bashir, the government's star witness in the case, said he was paid $119,000, most of it in cash, to work for the FBI.  

"Would it be fair to say it was the best job you ever had was working as an informant for the FBI?" asked Glenn Bruder, attorney for Omar.

"Yes," responded Bashir, whose highest paying job was $12 an hour.

  Bashir used the money to pay for hotel rooms, clothing, a computer and a car.

  During cross-examination, Bashir said he previously swore allegiance to ISIS, admitted to committing perjury and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. He hasn't been charged.  

"I've lied and committed crimes," he said, "and wanted to make up for them."

  "Lying is what you do, isn't it, Mr. Bashir?" Bruder asked.  

"No."  

Bruce Nestor, attorney for Abdirahman Daud, questioned Bashir about his father who was once on the government's no-fly list.  

Bashir's father visited Somalia in March of 2015, shortly after his son became an informant.

  Nestor asked whether his father was removed from the no-fly list as a benefit for Bashir's assistance in the case.

  "No," he responded.

  Nestor will continue cross-examining Bashir Tuesday morning.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 11: Monday, May 23

'I'm going to spit on America' | 3:15 p.m.

Some of the men who later pleaded guilty to plotting to join ISIS didn't fully trust their friend Abdirahman Bashir, who had decided to become an FBI informant. One of them thought if the whole plan was a "set up." 

Hanad Musse, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the terror group, asked Bashir if the man who they believed would provide the fake passports "was an undercover agent." 

But at least two young men were excited about the plan, according to prosecutors in the case. 

On the evening of April 17, 2015, defendants Abdirahman Daud, Mohamed Farah and FBI informant Bashir prayed at Farah's house and then left for San Diego. Their plan was to pick up fake passports from a man who was an undercover agent.

"So, we are leaving tomorrow," said Daud in one of the secret tape recordings made by Bashir on April 16, 2015. "Wallahi [by Allah] my heart is racing."

During a drive-through at Taco Bell, Farah ordered four loaded potatoes without bacon. 

"Wallahi, billahi, I'm going to throw the biggest halal party in the world," said Daud, swearing in Arabic.

Daud also told Bashir that he'd communicated with Abdi Nur, an ISIS fighter from Minneapolis. "Just heads up. We might be on our way." 

The drive to San Diego was quiet. Sometimes the men watched ISIS propaganda videos in the car and listened to lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States-born cleric who joined al-Qaeda in Yemen and was later killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

"The Islamic State has risen by the blood of the righteous," a nasheed, a chant, set to video said. 

"Free yourself from the prison of this world, and pray to Allah to grant you martyrdom," al-Awlaki proclaimed in the video.

"I don't think I can sleep until I see the [ISIS] flag," said Daud in the recording made by Bashir. 

"I can't believe I'm driving out of the land of the kuffar," he added. "I'm going to spit on America ... at the border crossing. May Allah's curse be upon you."

Daud, Farah and the informant arrived in San Bernardino, Calif., in the morning of April 19, 2015. They brushed their teeth and drove to a warehouse near the Mexican border to meet with an undercover agent who they believed would give them their fake passports.

If they succeeded in getting to Syria, Daud told his friends he would call Adnan Farah, their friend who later pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.

"He will tell me everything that's going on in the city," meaning in Minneapolis, Daud said.

At the warehouse, they met the undercover FBI agent, who gave them their fake passports.  

But a short time later, FBI SWAT agents stormed the warehouse after firing flashbang grenades inside. They arrested Daud and Farah at gunpoint. Bashir testified in court that he had been told by the FBI to fake an injury so he would be separated from the two men.

After his friends were arrested — Farah and Daud in San Diego, and four others in Minnesota — Bashir continued to work for the FBI, according to his court testimony. He remained in San Diego throughout the summer to transcribe and translate his recordings. 

The arrest of the men and Bashir's name quickly spread through Minnesota's Somali community. Some of his own family members told their sons to stay away from Bashir, the informant testified Monday.

In August 2015, Bashir started having anxiety attacks, he said. He said he turned to marijuana to cope with the stress. 

"It stressed me out," Bashir said of the experience. "I felt lonely."

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 10: Friday, May 20

A wedding, a war and a 'beautiful girl' | 4 p.m.

The young men accused of planning to join ISIS sounded elated about their friend's marriage in Syria.

"We just came from IHOP ... celebrating your wedding," said defendant Guled Omar, talking to Abdi Nur, an ISIS fighter from Minneapolis, via Skype.

The March 2015 audio was recorded by 20-year-old FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir, who described the conversation to jurors in a federal courtroom Friday.  

Omar was talking to several of his friends, including the informant. He told them that Nur had married a Bengali woman.

"I'm glad I talked to you on your wedding day," one of the friends, Zacharia Abdurahman, told Nur. "We're the hot boys on the block, bro," That means Abdurahman thought the FBI was watching them, Bashir interpreted to jurors.

"We haven't given up bro," said Abdurahman. He added he will join Nur soon, "either in jannah or in dunya," which means either in paradise or in this world.

The FBI knew what Abdurahman was allegedly plotting. They would arrest Abdurahman and five of his friends a month later, on April 19, 2015.  

Abdurahman and five others are now awaiting sentencing after they pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. But Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud decided to take their cases to trial.

On day 10 of their trial, prosecutors used a series of recordings made by co-conspirator-turned-FBI-informant Bashir. They're among the most damaging pieces of evidence prosecutors have presented in the trial so far.

Bashir's recordings were made inside mosques, restaurants, cars or at his friends' homes. The FBI had Bashir wear a hidden microphone when he talked with this group of friends, including the three men on trial: Farah, Daud and Omar. 

Prosecutors said they plan to present about 30 of the recordings, most of it in English. The last two hours of those recording will be played on Monday.

During Bashir's testimony, jurors appeared dazed, trying to follow the complicated web of names, relations, and excerpts of transcribed audio on a small screen. 

Most of the conversations were hard to make out, with different voices whispering and background noise. They sounded like ordinary teenagers and cracked jokes. They swore a lot, constantly saying, "wallahi billahi tallahi," which means swearing by Allah.

During a conversation recorded in March, Omar is heard saying he found "gabar qurux badan," a beautiful girl. He says she's a foreigner and her dowry is $5,000. The informant testified that Omar was speaking in code. The "girl" reference means fake passport.

"I'm just trying to ask him what's the best place to go from Mexico," Omar later explains to his friends.

In the same recording, the FBI informant advised Omar on how to phrase his questions to Nur. "I'm trying to go to anniversary with her. Where is the best spot?" Bashir suggested Omar ask Nur, who was already in Syria.

"I'm extra, extra, extra cautious, bro," Omar told the informant.

During his testimony on Thursday, Bashir said he went to California, at the request of the FBI, to contact an undercover agent who could make fake passports.

"That's like the best news I heard," defendant Abdirahman Daud said in a conversation recorded on March 19, 2015, when he found out about the informant's fake passport idea.

"I'm ready, bro," Daud told the informant. "I got a thousand in the account."

Daud would be arrested in San Diego on April 19, 2015 while trying to obtain a fake passport.  

But Omar was hesitant to take up the informant's fake passport scheme. When Daud, Adnan Farah and defendant Mohamed Farah gave passport photos to the informant, Omar asked the informant: "So you are not taking precaution?"

"We gotta do it the way that it won't bite us in the back," Omar said. 

The second week of the trial of three Somali-American men — Omar, Farah and Daud — concluded Friday afternoon. The FBI informant has been explaining his recordings for the jurors since late Wednesday afternoon.  

Bashir is not the government's only star witness in the case. Another witness, Abdullahi Yusuf, was the first man in the alleged plot to testify against his former friends. Yusuf is now awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to join ISIS. Yusuf was also the first of six men who pleaded guilty in the case. Abdirizak Warsame, another one of the six men, will take the witness stand next week to testify against his former friends.

The government expects to rest its case on Wednesday.

So far, prosecutors have presented some damaging evidence against the defendants, such as their travel documents, audio recordings of the men discussing their travel plans to Syria and evidence of the group admiring photos of ISIS fighters. 

Jurors also viewed gruesome ISIS videos showing killings and beheadings. Prosecutors said the men watched those videos, which inspired them to attempt to join the terrorist organization.

In their cross-examination with witness Yusuf, defense attorneys scrutinized inconsistencies in his testimony and what he told the government in proffer meetings in January 2015.

Yusuf repeatedly told the defense "I misspoke" and "I lied" during cross-examinations.

Attorneys are expected to cross-examine the informant on Monday.

Last Friday, tension erupted in the courtroom as Yusuf mentioned names of defendants when he was testifying. A man sitting within earshot of Yusuf's mother called her son a "spy." 

Sahra Hudle reacted to the man's remarks and began talking. A court security guard removed Hudle and the man from the courtroom.

Security at the court has been tight since beginning of the trial. Court security lines up families of defendants before they are allowed to enter the courtroom. Homeland Security guards wearing bulletproof vests with K-9 dogs roam the main entrance of the court building. 

The informant's testimony will resume Monday morning. 

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Doualy Xaykaothao

 Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the person in a tape recording concerning fake passports. A corrected version is above.

Day 9: Thursday, May 19

Here's why informant cooperated with FBI  | 2:05 p.m.

When a sympathetic FBI agent approached Abdirahman Bashir in December 2014, Bashir was at his lowest point.

In his second day of testimony, Bashir, a 20-year-old FBI informant who once attempted to join ISIS, described what led him to work for the government.

"I knew that the FBI knew everything that was going on," Bashir said Thursday.

In late 2014, Bashir said he lied to a grand jury for the second time in five months about his involvement in the alleged conspiracy to travel to Syria. 

At that time, Bashir was mourning the death of four cousins killed in an airstrike in Syria.

"I stopped being radical," Bashir said. "I started listening to my father and uncle. A lot of scholars say everything ISIS is doing is wrong."

He said he wanted to get his life "back on track." He also admitted he wanted to make money, having lost his job at the airport.

Before he agreed to cooperate, Bashir was actively involved in the alleged plot to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

In May 2014, Bashir wanted to apply for a U.S. passport, but his mother wouldn't let him have his birth certificate.

So Bashir planned to devise a way to get the certificate by traveling to San Diego, where he was born.

Bashir wanted to drive along with defendant Guled Omar and Yusuf Jama, who rented a car for the three men.

Bashir put his luggage in the rental car.

But as they stopped by Omar's house just before heading out, Omar's family disrupted their plan. He had told them he was going to Texas to visit a sister, but they had discovered Omar had taken his passport. 

  On the stand, Bashir described a chaotic scene in which the family accused Omar of lying about his plans. 

With Bashir in the driver's seat of the rental car, Omar's sister jumped into the backseat. Omar's brother pulled the keys out of the ignition. 

  Omar shouted to his family, 'You guys never let me go anywhere!' Bashir recalled.

  Soon, Bashir's own parents arrived, and it was clear the men weren't leaving Minnesota that day. Shortly after, the defendant, Omar, called Bashir. It sounded like he was crying.

  "He was saying his family always ruins everything," Bashir recalled Omar saying. "I said, 'Don't worry, we'll get another time. Be patient.'"

Four days later, Bashir made it to San Diego alone.

While in San Diego, Bashir said he heard that Abdullahi Yusuf, who has since pleaded guilty, was stopped at the airport and that Abdi Nur had successfully traveled out of the country. 

  Bashir said he came back to Minnesota in the summer of 2014, and spent more time with alleged co-conspirators. He said they talked about travel plans and watched ISIS propaganda videos.

  ISIS videos inspired him to seek out the terror group, he said. The videos showed ISIS fighters killing and beheading people, capturing cities and raising their signature black flag.

  "Everyone would be talking about it" when ISIS releases a new video, he said.

  Prosecutors showed a clip from one of the videos Bashir said he watched. The "Flames of War" movie showed fighters from the Syrian army digging their own graves. 

In the courtroom, the clip froze just before the prisoners were shot to death. One juror looked away.  

In another video shown on monitors in the jury box, ISIS fighters are seen grabbing prisoners by the neck as they swipe knives from a box. Again, the frame freezes just before the moment the captives are executed. 

That's when two young Somali-American men, including a friend of Omar, the defendant, got up and left the courtroom. 

On August 19, 2014, Bashir was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury.

"I was really scared," he said because he thought the FBI was aware of his plans. He lied to the grand jury.

In the fall of 2014, Bashir said he received a call from his cousin in Syria. "There's people leaving," he told Bashir. "Don't let them leave you this time."

He got another call from Abdi Nur who told him the same thing.

"Don't let the caravan leave you," they told him and encouraged him to come with the group.

Bashir said he confronted them because he wasn't aware of the group's impending travel plans on Nov. 8, 2014.

"There's no other way, that's the date," defendant Abdirahman Daud allegedly told Bashir.

"It got me really hasty," Bashir said. "I wanted to join them."

A month later, he started cooperating with the FBI.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 8: Wednesday, May 18

ISIS sympathizer-turned-FBI-informant details path to radicalism

They waited a year to come face to face with him. When his name was called and he entered the federal courtroom in Minneapolis, they all craned their necks as if they had not seen him before.

But many knew the man in the black suit and white shirt walking to the witness stand. He ate in their homes, played basketball and video games with them.

Abdirahman Bashir, a paid FBI informant who secretly taped conversations of three defendants, was the most anticipated government witness in Minnesota's ISIS trial.

Bashir was friends with defendants Guled Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, three young men in their early 20s who are facing trial on charges of plotting to join ISIS in Syria.

Bashir said he wanted to go there himself at one time. But in January 2015, he started to work for the FBI as the government stepped up its surveillance on Bashir and about a dozen other men. Bashir wore a hidden microphone and played a crucial role in helping the FBI crack the case by secretly recording his friends.

The audio of his conversations with Omar, Farah and Daud is expected to be among the most damaging evidence presented at trial. Bashir will be asked to identify speakers and break down the meaning of discussions — some of them laced with slang and Arabic or Somali terms — for the all-white jury.

Bashir's credibility will undoubtedly be a target for defense attorneys. And they've already clashed with prosecutors over Bashir's mental state. 

Last August, four months after six of his friends were arrested, he was admitted to a hospital in San Diego after having an anxiety attack, according to court records. He told an FBI agent from Minneapolis that he was depressed, had suicidal thoughts and had been medicating himself with marijuana.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ordered prosecutors to turn over Bashir's medical records to the defense attorneys, who argued that marijuana use and depression could have affected Bashir's reliability as a witness.

Davis reviewed the records and wrote that Bashir's anxiety attack was brought on because of his role as an informant in the case, fear for himself and his family, and by his use of marijuana and hashish. 

A few months before he became an informant, Bashir learned four of his cousins who apparently joined ISIS had died, including Hanad Mohallim, a suburban Twin Cities teen who Bashir said Wednesday was like a brother to him.

On a Sunday morning in March 2014, after praying at a local mosque, Bashir dropped Mohallim off at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He told the court he knew where his cousin was going, but he kept it to himself.

"I wanted to go there," Bashir testified Wednesday afternoon. "I wanted to know what was going on over there."

Before he said goodbye to his cousin, Bashir told Mohallim: "If you go over there and you think it's true jihad, then I'm going to come later on."

Bashir said he grew up in a "moderate" household. He started shifting his religious views in ninth grade and became more religious after two of his cousins, Hamsa and Hirsi Kariye, started talking to him about "jihad, fighting for Islam and becoming a shaheed," a martyr.  

Hamsa, in his 20s and Hirsi in 30s, took Bashir to different mosques in San Diego.

Bashir said he watched a video, "Fighting for Jannah (Paradise)," with Mohallim, who was in San Diego at the time. It was a lecture about two fighters in jihad. They fasted, prayed — and died — together, he said. 

Bashir talked to his father about his cousins' radical views. Bashir's father advised him to stay away from the Kariye brothers, who later moved to Edmonton, Canada.

Bashir's family moved to Minnesota in 2012 when he was 16 so his parents could find better job opportunities.

He kept in touch with his cousins. In the summer of 2013, Mohallim traveled to Canada to visit the Kariye brothers. Afraid the cousins might influence their son, Bashir's family forbade him to go along. 

When Mohallim came back, Bashir said he was a changed man.

'There's jihad in Syria,' Mohallim told Bashir, 'and we've got to go over and do something.'

In late 2013, before they traveled to Syria to join ISIS, one of the Kariye brothers contacted Bashir through the messaging app Tango. 

"Don't let the caravan leave you," Hirsi told Bashir.

In 2013, Mohallim introduced Bashir to Abdullahi Yusuf and Hamza Ahmed, two men originally charged in the alleged plot who later pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Another cousin, Abdihafid Ali, introduced Bashir to Mohamed Farah and Guled Omar, two defendants in the current trial. 

When Mohallim disappeared, the group was shocked, Bashir said. They started looking for photos of Mohallim on social media. Bashir said they found photos of ISIS fighters, including those of his cousins.

During testimony in the unusually quiet courtroom, prosecutor Andrew Winter showed a photo he said was of Mohallim, his face covered, an AK-47 in hand and lying next to three RPGs.

Prosecutors will continue to question Bashir on Thursday. 

Earlier in the day Wednesday, the courtroom heard a brief, emotional description of radicalization from a father's point of view.

Bashi Ibrahim described his son, Yusuf Jama, as a "typical young man" who worked at a day care center and taught the Quran to students. 

Ibrahim said he received a call from Jama in late June, 2014. The caller ID displayed a Turkish number. His son did not tell him where he was calling from, Ibrahim said, but he "had a place to stay and something to eat." Authorities believe Jama died in early 2015 while fighting for ISIS.

Winter asked Ibrahim if he knew Mohamed Osman, a man who authorities say traveled to Somalia in July 2012 at the age of 19 to join al-Shabab. Ibrahim answered that Osman also was his son.

Before he left the witness stand, Ibrahim lifted up a chart showing a photo of his son, Jama, that was part of the government's evidence. 

"Can I take this?" he asked.

Judge Davis told Ibrahim the government will make a copy for him.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 7: Tuesday, May 17

Elevator confrontation leaves defendant's dad dejected | 7:25 p.m.

Abdihamid Farah Yusuf said he was in an elevator heading back up to the courtroom when a woman asked what was happening on the 13th floor.  

Yusuf, the father of defendant Mohamed Farah, was also standing beside several other family members of the other two men on trial. It was after the lunch break, and court was about to resume.

  That's when another man in the elevator dressed in a dark suit and carrying a briefcase piped up: "There's a major Muslim trial, and they're going to lose," Yusuf recalled.

  "Excuse me?" said Sundus Daud, the 15-year-old sister of defendant Abdirahman Daud.  

"The Quran is fake, and you need to read the Bible," the man said loudly, as he held one foot out of the elevator, according to Yusuf and Sundus Daud.

  The man was white, Yusuf said. He was accompanied by the woman who asked the initial question, as well as a man and a woman who appeared to be of Asian descent. 

  "You got to go back home," Yusuf recalled the man telling him and the other family members.  

Yusuf said he tried to reason with the man and told him he respected Christianity. He also told the man that the case wasn't about a religion, but about individuals. Eventually, the man and the rest of his group left the elevator. Reached by MPR News, U.S. Marshal Sharon Lubinski said she had not heard of the incident but will meet with Yusuf to get more information. 

  The whole exchange lasted just a couple of minutes, Yusuf said. But it left him feeling dejected — not only about his personal experiences while attending his son's trial, but about his son's prospects of getting a fair trial before an all-white jury.  

"We're feeling the whole world is against us," he said.   

Earlier in the afternoon, a U.S. marshal removed Yusuf's 15-year-old daughter after someone reported seeing her sleeping during the trial. Her parents maintain she was not sleeping but resting her eyes because she was tired.  

Yusuf and his wife, Ayan Farah, have been the most visible couple attending the trial. She runs a Somali restaurant; he drives a school bus. They have two sons who were charged in Minnesota's ISIS investigation. A younger son, Adnan,  pleaded guilty last month to being part of the alleged conspiracy. 

  According to trial testimony last week, Adnan Farah told a friend, Abdullahi Yusuf, that his parents were outraged after his dad found a passport Adnan ordered and had mailed to their home. After that, they hid Adnan Farah's passport and took away his cell phone, vowing to keep a closer eye on him, Yusuf testified.    

Adnan Farah's mother also became part of the news last month at her son's plea hearing. Just before he confessed to the court that he plotted with his friends to join ISIS, she collapsed in court.   

Moments later, Adnan Farah told U.S. District Judge Michael Davis his parents love him the most in the world.

  "I'm more than sorry for the pain I've caused my parents," the 20-year-old said, his voice breaking. "If I had listened to them, I would not be where I am today. I'm sorry."

  On Tuesday, Abdihamid Farah Yusuf wore the demeanor of a dad still trying to make sense of it all. 

  "We came here for a better life. We're raising seven children," he said. "This is not what we expected."  

Meanwhile, prosecutors showed travel records of the defendants and social media postings of two Somali-Americans thought to have joined terrorist groups, Abdi Nur and Mohamed Hassan, a man believed to have joined al-Shabab about seven years ago.

  Hassan, also known as Mujahid Miski, exchanged dozens of messages with Nur on Facebook in the summer of 2014, after Nur successfully made his way to Syria, according to prosecutors.   

FBI special agent Daniel Higgins said he obtained a search warrant to access Nur's private messages on social media.

  While in Somalia, Miski wrote to Nur in August 2014 that he was "jealous" of Nur, because he would have a chance to be martyred in Syria.  

According to the messages presented in court, Nur informed Miski that Mohamed Osman's, "brother," Yusuf Jama, was in Syria. Osman allegedly joined al-Shabab several years ago. Higgins explained that Osman, was not actually blood-related to Jama, but they grew up together in same home.  

Miski advised Nur to stay connected with other Minnesota fighters in Syria. 

  In a private Facebook message, Miski asked Nur how many Minnesotans were in Syria. "Only three of us," Nur replied. "The other there still working making hijrah [migration]."  

Agent Higgins said there's no evidence that Nur had communicated with defendant Mohamed Farah.  

The FBI hasn't obtained a subpoena to get the records from Abdirahman Daud's social media accounts.

An FBI informant is expected to begin testifying against his former friends Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors say Abdirahman Bashir secretly tape-recorded the defendants over a few months starting early 2015. He's considered to be a crucial witness who helped the government build its case against the defendants.

Laura Yuen and Mukhtar Ibrahim

'I want the best death' | 2:17 p.m.

The most emotional testimony so far in Minnesota's ISIS trial came Tuesday from the sister of accused fighter Abdi Nur of Minneapolis.

Ifrah Nur broke down in tears at the witness stand as she recounted her brother's last messages to her.

When Abdi Nur disappeared in May 2014, Ifrah communicated with her brother via the messaging app Kik and Facebook, frantically trying to find him.

"Baby bro," she told Abdi Nur in a Facebook private message, "Come back to me. I can't live knowing maybe you are dead."

Nur wasn't swayed.

"Everybody dies," he responded, "but I want the best death."

Nur left the country on May 29, 2014, and is now believed to be fighting for the terrorist group ISIS. 

Nur was friends with Guled Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, the three defendants facing trial on charges of attempting to join ISIS.

Ifrah, 23, said she did not want to testify in the trial but was subpoenaed to explain a series of private messages she traded with her younger brother on social media. 

Nur told his sister that he was trying to get him and his family members into heaven.

"Will see each other in afterlife," Nur said. "Only Allah knows how much I love you."

Take care of hooyo, he told her, using the Somali word for mother.

"My heart is with Allah," Nur said, "and I'm not coming back." 

Ifrah said her brother, a basketball fan who went by the nickname Curry, grew more religious in the two months before he disappeared. She said she didn't know if anyone in the area had influenced him.

When he first vanished, family members went to local mosques to find answers, but nobody told them where he went, Ifrah said.

Her voice often trailed while answering questions from defense attorneys and prosecutor Julie Allyn. Then U.S. District Judge Michael Davis asked Ifrah to explain some of the messages with her brother. In one exchange, she wrote to Abdi Nur, "Why would u leave me u promised me."

When asked by the judge, she clarified that they never spoke about leaving the country.

"We had conversations about us always being there for each other, not about him going to Syria," Ifrah said as she choked back tears.

The judge also asked her to explain what her brother meant when he wrote that he was "doing it for all of us."

She paused for a moment, removed her dark oversized glasses, and wiped away her tears. "He believes if he died in Syria, that he would take family members to heaven," she said. "That's what he believed."

The last time Ifrah communicated with her brother was a year and a half ago. She said she's not sure if he's alive or dead.

Nur isn't the only person from Ifrah's family who disappeared.

Mohamed Roble, Ifrah's nephew, also left the country for Syria in October 2014, federal agent Joel Pajak testified on Tuesday.

Roble, whose story has not been reported in the media before, becomes a new addition to the list of known Minnesotans who left the country to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

Pajak, who is with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, testified Tuesday about items seized from Nur's blue Volkswagen Jetta, which was found near a light rail station on Hiawatha several days after Nur left the country.

Pajak said he found motor vehicle registration, a traffic ticket and an overdue tuition payment letter from Normandale Community College in Nur's vehicle, as well as a Wells Fargo application he filled out a month before Nur left the country.

Prosecutor Julie Allyn showed travel records of Hanad Mohallim and Douglas McCain, who left the country the same day on March 9, 2014 at 9:10 a.m. Mohallim and McCain used the same credit card to purchase their plane tickets for about $1,000 each.

Yusuf Jama took a test flight to Chicago in June 2014. He intended to stay in Chicago for about five hours and then come back to the Twin Cities. Pajak said Jama was trying to determine whether he was on the no-fly list. 

When he returned to the Twin Cities, Jama purchased another international flight ticket. Jama successfully left the country on June 9, 2014, flying out of JFK after taking a Greyhound bus from Minneapolis.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 6: Monday, May 16

Attorneys scrutinize inconsistencies in key government witness' story | 8:15 p.m.

In January 2015, government witness Abdullahi Yusuf told the FBI in proffer meetings that Guled Omar had distanced himself from the group that was allegedly involved in the conspiracy to join ISIS.

  "Was that a lie?" Glenn Bruder, Omar's attorney, asked Yusuf in afternoon testimony at the federal trial of three men including Omar.

"That was a lie," Yusuf responded.  

Four months later, Yusuf told the FBI that Omar was the "emir," or leader of the group and was actively involved in the plot. He also told the government that Omar wanted to be a spokesman for ISIS.  

Bruder prompted Yusuf if it was in his self-interest to tell the government that Omar was the leader of the group while he initially said the group had no leader, which "would not help the government build its case against" Omar, Bruder said.    

His former friend was conflicted, Yusuf said, adding that Omar seemed religious, but would also "party a lot and be as high as hell." 

  Yusuf said Omar was part of a group of around 30 that met at various places, including the house of Amir Meshal.  Meshal was said to be a close friend of Abdi Nur, a man who left the country the day after Yusuf was stopped at the airport as he tried to make his way to Syria.  Meshal has said through attorneys he's not a recruiter, and not an informant.  He's not charged in the case. 

  Bruder repeatedly pointed out Yusuf's inconsistencies in his previous interviews with the FBI and assistant U.S. attorneys.   

In August 2015, Yusuf, who was housed in the same jail as Omar, told authorities that Omar had threatened him in Somali.  

The jail had kept track of Omar and determined that it couldn't have been him.   

"Mistaken identity," Yusuf said.  

"Are you prone to mistakes?" Bruder asked.  

"I wouldn't say so," Yusuf responded.  

"Let's clear this up," U.S. District Judge Michael Davis interjected and asked Yusuf to explain the incident at the jail.  

Yusuf said that while he was getting his medication, a young Somali man that resembled Omar had shouted at him: "We are going to get you and your family." 

In the spring of 2014, Yusuf said he participated in a religious study group on Mondays led by Omar at Meshal's house. The group discussed the history of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, a lot of it which "centered on fighting."  

Meshal, who was much older than Yusuf and the others, was a member of the study group, but he wasn't involved in plotting to travel to Syria, Yusuf testified.  

"I wasn't going over there to sell cars," Yusuf said when Bruder asked what he intended to do in Syria. "I was going to fight."  

Yusuf said he is now against the views of ISIS and he wants to tell the truth about his involvement in the plot.  

"Did you change your religious views to please the government?" Bruder asked.  

"No," he said, "I just realized what ISIS represents isn't for me."  

"Can you think of any other lies?" Bruder said.  

"You covered it all," Yusuf said.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

'The whole plot' | 2:11 p.m.

Defense attorneys are cross-examining government witness Abdullahi Yusuf, who was friends with the three defendants facing trial on charges of attempting to join ISIS. 

Attorney Bruce Nestor aggressively questioned Yusuf about whether he understood what it means to testify for the government.

Yusuf said he knew that the government would offer him a reduced sentence if he told the truth about his involvement in the alleged conspiracy to join ISIS.

During testimony preparations, Yusuf said he told the government about the "whole plot."

"The whole story," he said, "from beginning to end."

But under cross-examination from Nestor, Yusuf said, "I misspoke," three times when Nestor asked him questions about the alleged plot.

Nestor asked Yusuf who gave him two phone numbers of contacts that Yusuf said would help him get to Syria. 

Yusuf insisted that he got the numbers from Abdirahman Daud, Nestor's client.

However, Nestor read transcripts of Yusuf's testimony from Friday, when prosecutors asked him the same question. 

On Friday, Nur told prosecutor John Docherty that he got the phone numbers from Abdi Nur, a man believed to be fighting in Syria.

Nestor asked Yusuf if he changed his story when Yusuf found out that Daud was arrested in April of 2015. 

In a May 2015 interview with the FBI, Yusuf said Daud gave him the numbers, which contracted his earlier statement to the FBI in January 2015. 

Yusuf answered many of Nestor's questions by simply saying, "I don't know."

"You had an extraordinary memory recollection last Friday," Nestor told Yusuf.

Yusuf's testimony also showed a series of proffer meetings he had with the FBI and assistant U.S. attorneys starting in January 2015, including four trial preparations in April and May.

Defense attorney Murad Mohammad asked Yusuf if he knew Amir Meshal

Meshal, a 33-year-old Egyptian-American originally from New Jersey, had been banned from at least two suburban mosques in Minnesota over concerns about his influence on young people, but he was never charged with a crime. 

Yusuf said he met Meshal in the spring of 2014 at Al-Farooq Youth & Family Center in Bloomington.

Yusuf added that Meshal was close to Abdi Nur, and that Meshal had met with several young men, including the three defendants: Guled Omar, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud.

Meshal had "radical views," Yusuf testified, adding that at the time, "our views aligned."

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 5: Friday, May 13

Tension erupts in courtroom as key government witness testifies against former friends | 9:51 p.m.

On the morning of May 28, 2014, as Abdullahi Yusuf was dropped off at school, he hugged his father, something the 18-year-old rarely did. It was Yusuf's way of saying goodbye for good, though his dad didn't know it at the time.

"I tried to talk about old memories," Yusuf said. 

That morning he planned to travel to Syria to join ISIS, Yusuf testified in court Friday.

Yusuf is the first key government witness to testify against three defendants — Guled Omar, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah — three men who were once his friends.

The mood inside the courtroom was tense as Yusuf described his involvement in the alleged conspiracy to join ISIS.

At one point during the testimony, a commotion erupted inside the courtroom when a man within earshot of Yusuf's mother called her son a "spy." 

Sahra Hudle reacted to the man's remarks and began talking. A court security guard removed Hudle and the man from the courtroom.

Yusuf got emotional after seeing his mom ejected. 

"Are you OK to continue?" Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty asked.

"Can I have a little break?" Yusuf said.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis stopped Yusuf's testimony for 15 minutes.

Yusuf's testimony centered on one night in March 2014, when he met with a group of men at Al Farooq Youth & Family Center in Bloomington. There, the men played basketball, watched ISIS propaganda videos and talked till 2 a.m., Yusuf said. 

Yusuf said Farah, sitting in the defendant's chair a few feet away, pulled up videos on his iPad showing bombings in Syria. 

The same night, Yusuf said he first met Abdi Nur, who is believed to be fighting in Syria. Prosecutors said Nur left a day after Yusuf was stopped at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Yusuf said the group at Al Farooq that night numbered around 30 people. He knew a handful from school and family ties.

"I was recruited that night," Yusuf said. 

"Who recruited you?" prosecutor Docherty asked.

"Guled Omar," he said.

"What did he recruit you to?" Docherty asked again.

"To be part of the group," Yusuf said, "to get to Syria and to fight for ISIL," using another acronym for ISIS.

Guled Omar, seated nearby and taking notes, raised his eyebrows and slightly opened his mouth.

Yusuf said Daud also recommended a video called, "Advice to the Ones Who Stay Behind," a lecture by Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States-born cleric who joined al-Qaeda in Yemen and was later killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

One day outside the Islamic center in Bloomington, Yusuf said Omar gave him an ultimatum. Omar allegedly told Yusuf that the group was planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS and he wanted to know if Yusuf was prepared to do the same.

Omar told Yusuf "there would be no hard feelings" if he walked away.

"I told him I wanted to be a part of it," Yusuf said.

Yusuf said some of members of the group thought they were "hot," meaning they were under scrutiny from the FBI, so they discussed ways to drive to Mexico and to make their way to Syria from there.

The group also began to communicate using secure and encrypted chat message apps, such as Surespot. 

According to Yusuf's testimony, Omar set the travel date from the U.S. by June 1, 2014, so the group could use "graduation vacation" as a ruse.

Yusuf said the group considered joining either ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida-linked group. They eventually decided to join ISIS after making contact with Hanad Mohallim, a young man who left the Twin Cities whom prosecutors said was an inspiration for the group. 

After arguments erupted within the group, Yusuf said they elected Guled Omar as their emir, or leader. Defendant Daud wasn't there when the group elected Omar, Yusuf added. 

Omar gave Yusuf $200 to pay for an expedited passport, Yusuf said. Abdi Nur recommended that Yusuf open a bank account with his passport. 

Nur also gave Yusuf a Yahoo email account to contact ISIS members. Yusuf said he saved messages in a draft folder, where people would type messages without sending them, thinking they could keep law enforcement from seeing their communications.

Yusuf said he saw messages traded between his best friend Hanad Mohallim and Douglas McCain. Mohallim and McCain left the U.S. together in March 2014. They are both believed to have died in Syria.    During the testimony, the government displayed exhibits showing ATM photos of Yusuf making bank deposits and shopping presumably to prepare to travel.

On the day of his departure, Nur gave Yusuf a ride to a light rail station.

As soon as he arrived the airpot, FBI agents stopped Yusuf before he tried to board a plane, but did not arrest him. 

When he returned from the airport, Yusuf tweeted: "The weather is hot today," a signal alerting his friends that he was stopped.

In September 2014, during a meeting with friends at a Minneapolis mosque, Yusuf received a text from his attorney warning him that he would be arrested. 

After he got the text, Yusuf and his friends decided that it would be best for them to try to leave the United States again.

Yusuf's testimony will continue Monday with cross-examination by defense attorneys.  

— Mukhtar Ibrahim, Laura Yuen and Doualy Xaykaothao

Star witness tells court of friends, innocence lost to ISIS | 11:40 a.m.

The last time Abdullahi Yusuf saw his best friend, Hanad Mohallim, was in early March 2014 in a gym at a Bloomington mosque. Yusuf was a "hooper" — one of the teens who loved to play basketball around the clock.

Mohallim tried repeatedly to get his attention that day.

"He told me several times he had something important to tell me, but I was too busy playing basketball," Yusuf told the court Friday.

Shortly after, Mohallim disappeared. He left the Twin Cities on March 9, 2014, at age 18, and went to become one of the first Minnesotans to leave for Syria to fight for the terrorist group ISIS. He later died there.

Yusuf described Mohallim as a funny man who "kept up with the latest fashion trends."

Yusuf's story riveted the courtroom Friday morning. He's one of three star witnesses for federal prosecutors and is testifying against three "former friends," as he put it, who have been charged with trying to join ISIS in the Middle East.

Yusuf is hoping to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for his testimony. But he admitted today that even after he agreed to cooperate with the government in early 2015, he withheld information and wasn't fully truthful.

"I wanted to cover for my former friends," Yusuf told the jury while being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty. "I didn't want them to go to prison for it. I knew there would be blowback from the community. I didn't go 10 toes in. I didn't cooperate fully."

He said he decided to "come clean" by telling all.

In a dramatic moment, Yusuf acknowledged that those former friends were the defendants. He looked across the courtroom and looked at Guled Omar, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah. 

He went on to describe the two days after he last saw Mohallim on the basketball court. Concerned about the disappearance of his friend Mohallim, Yusuf called Omar and asked him if he has seen Mohallim.

Omar said no and hung up on Yusuf.

Docherty asked where Omar is sitting in the courtroom.

"Right there," Yusuf said, pointing toward Omar.

Yusuf, 20, was born in Kenya. He and his family were refugees from the Somali civil war and eventually resettled in Minnesota. He's a U.S. citizen and the son of a truck driver and a stay-at-home mom.

He attended four schools in the Twin Cities and said he didn't take his academics seriously. 

At the start of his senior year at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, he knew hardly anything about Syria. That all changed when a history teacher assigned him to do a presentation on the country. 

He was disturbed by the atrocities committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. 

"I found it shocking," Yusuf told the jury. "I don't think a government is supposed to bomb its own people."

Before judge Davis called recess, Yusuf described a moment he learned his best friend had left the country.

"Strange," he said. "It was a complete surprise to me."

— Laura Yuen, Mukhtar Ibrahim and Doualy Xaykaothao

Day 4: Thursday, May 12

Primer on Syrian conflict, ISIS dominate Day 4 of trial | 8:40 p.m.

  On Thursday evening, during the conclusion of day four of the trial for three men facing ISIS-related charges, the federal prosecuting attorney linked the current case to two Minnesota men who died in Syria.

   Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty said Hanad Mohallim and Doug McCain traveled to Syria together in March 2014.   

Prosecutors said Mohallim inspired the defendants to travel to Syria in order to join ISIS. Docherty noted that at the end of May 2014, Abdirahman Bashir, who also attempted to join ISIS before he became an FBI informant, "waited contact from" McCain after Bashir traveled to San Diego. Both Bashir and McCain have Minnesota and California ties. Bashir started working for the government in early 2015.  

Defense attorneys objected to the government's plan to introduce pictures of Mohallim and McCain, along with Abdirahman Daud, Guled Omar and Mohamed Farah, the three men facing trial.  

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis overruled the attorneys' objections.

  Mohallim left the Twin Cities when he was 18 years old. He's believed to have been killed in an airstrike in 2014 with his three cousins from Canada. That year, the U.S. State Department confirmed McCain died in Syria.

  McCain appears to have known Abdirahmaan Muhumed, a Minneapolis man who told MPR News he went to Syria to fight with the Islamic State and who is believed dead.

In 2014, Muhumed shocked his Facebook friends after he posted a photo of himself holding a rifle in one hand and the Quran in the other, with a caption that translates to "Syria." McCain seemed to encourage Muhumed to fight.

"[Brother] don't listen to these people," McCain told Muhumed in a Facebook exchange on Feb. 19, 2014. "They wish they had your heart continue protecting our brothers and sisters."

  Meanwhile, two attorneys for defendants facing charges of trying to join ISIS cross examined a government expert witness about Syria's conflict and armed opposition groups fighting there.  

Murad Mohammad, attorney for Mohamed Farah, focused on the complexity of the conflict in the region and asked Charles Lister, an expert in ISIS, about the meaning of Arabic terms that Lister briefly explained during the government's cross examination.  

Mohammad, who was born in Iraq and speaks Arabic, told Lister that the words "kaffir," and "mujahid" have different meanings than what Lister told the government. 

Mohammad said ISIS kills Muslims whom it considers non-believers or kuffar (singular: kafir), and that ISIS perversely distorts the Islamic religion to suit its needs.  

Mujahid, he said, could also mean a regular fighter or even the name of a person, and not necessarily a person fighting for the cause of Allah.

  Bruce Nestor, Abdirahman Daud's attorney, took issue with Lister's involvement and support for specific armed opposition Syrian groups that were "vetted" by Western intelligence agencies.

  Much of Lister's testimony focused on the Syrian conflict and explaining ISIS' history and brutality.   

When Judge Davis adjourned the court in late afternoon, one family member said: "Did we come here to listen to this man all day?" 

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

ISIS' goal: 'Ultimately, world domination' | 1:40 p.m.

Jurors in Minnesota's ISIS trial got a primer Thursday on the Syrian conflict and the origins of the terror group.

Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, offered a basic history of the Arab Spring that eventually sparked the revolution in Syria and gave rise to ISIS.

Lister — who's being paid $415 an hour by the U.S. attorney's office to talk about the conflict in Syria — explained to jurors ISIS' brutality tactics and how the group lures recruits from all over the world with its slick, professionally produced propaganda videos.

At one point, U.S. Assistant Attorney John Docherty showed pictures of well-known terrorist leaders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He also showed a picture of ISIS fighters raising their index fighters.

"What's the significance of that?" he asked Lister.

"It's a symbol of what's called tawheed," which Lister said signifies that the fighters are "followers of the core tenets" of Islam.

"What does ISIL want?" Docherty asked Lister, using other acronym for ISIS.

"Ultimately, world domination," Lister said.

  He defined a series of Arabic and complex Islamic theological Muslim terms, such as the concept of martyrdom and qisas, the principle of eye for an eye.

Some of the jurors attentively took notes while others looked at the expert witness, perhaps overwhelmed with the amount of information Lister was telling them. 

The testimony lasted more than three hours before the lunch break. 

During the testimony, court security removed the mother of Abdullahi Yusuf from other courtroom after she tried to silence her phone when she received a text message. 

Yusuf, 20, the Inver Grove Heights man who last year became the first in the alleged conspiracy to plead guilty, is scheduled to testify today.

The court went back into session at about 1:40 p.m. with an early question about the meaning of martyrdom.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 3: Wednesday, May 11

Sister speaks reluctantly about brother's disappearance | 7 p.m.

Hanan Mohallim shifted in her chair and admitted she did not want to be testifying in the trial of three young Minneapolis men accused of trying to join ISIS.  

But the 22-year-old St. Paul woman was subpoenaed — and on Wednesday afternoon, she became the first of more than two dozen witnesses expected to be called by the government.  

Her younger brother is Hanad Mohallim, a fun-loving suburban teen who once joked in a video selfie about growing up in the "projects" of Apple Valley. Prosecutors said at age 18, he left for Syria in March 2014 for Turkey and later enlisted with ISIS.

  His sister, wearing a taupe headscarf and black dress, told jurors that she was a college student in Duluth at the time of her brother's departure. When Hanan learned he went missing, she didn't know where he could have gone. But she soon traded messages with him on Facebook.

  Although Hanad never revealed his whereabouts, Hanan said she figured it out on her own — he was in Syria. The siblings had three cousins from Canada who previously made it there. On the Facebook Messenger app, she received pictures of her brother, smiling. 

And although she says she still doesn't know why her little brother was likely in Syria, she had reason to fear for Hanad's safety: "I knew it was a dangerous place," Hanan said.

  She testified that she learned from family that Hanad died overseas in November 2014. His cousins also died in Syria that year, according to the CBC

  Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said in court Wednesday that Hanad's arrival in Syria motivated his friends back home to do the same. Only a few members in the circle had known of his plan; many others were surprised when they learned he made it, Winter said.

  Hanad posted a picture of himself posing with rocket-propelled grenades. "This is what they're seeing in 2014, and this is in part what inspires them," Winter said of Hanad's friends.

  Other family members told MPR News that prior to his departure, Hanad struggled academically and bounced among several high schools. On Twitter, the summer before he left for the Middle East, he became contemplative, saying he grew up fast because he didn't have a father. He called on young Muslims, including himself, to realize their identity.  

According to court documents, shortly after he left Minnesota, he told family members in phone conversations that he was serving as a "border guard" in Syria — and that he believed he would go to the jail if he ever returned to the United States.

— Laura Yuen

Defense attorney: ISIS defendant did not have 'murder on his mind' | 5:30 p.m.

Abdirahman Daud was a talker, not a doer, who did not have "murder on his mind" as he sought out the ISIS terror group, his lawyer Bruce Nestor said Wednesday. 

Attorneys for Daud and the two other Minnesota men charged with trying to join ISIS completed their opening statements Wednesday afternoon. The three men, all in their early 20s, are charged with plotting to join ISIS and commit murder abroad. 

Glenn Bruder, attorney for Guled Omar, also said his client was "all talk" and never even left Hennepin County, nor did he plot to murder.

Murad Mohammad, the attorney who tried to withdraw as counsel for defendant Mohamed Farah, took about 20 minutes to present his defense and asked jurors to listen to the case and return a not guilty verdict. 

Earlier in the day, Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Winter said the men never gave up in their attempts to leave the country, even after family and law enforcement thwarted previous attempts. He said the men on trial knew what they were getting into.

Nestor, though, cautioned jurors not to rush to judgment. 

He also brought up Abdirahman Bashir, a paid FBI informant who secretly recorded the men, arguing that an informant "must ensnare other people."

Bruder also suggested that Bashir was tainted by the money he got for becoming a federal informant.

"Mr. Bashir received financial aid exceeding $100,000," Bruder told jurors. "That's the foundation in which the government's case is based on."

Nestor said the evidence as it unfolds would support a conclusion different from the prosecution. He told the jurors: "You will have to decide what is truth, what is lies."

— Doualy Xaykaothao

Prosecutor says defendants kept trying to join ISIS | 12:55 p.m.

Prosecutors delivered opening statements Wednesday in the case of three Minnesota men charged with trying to enlist with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria.

  Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Winter said the men never gave up in their attempts to leave the country, even after family and law enforcement thwarted previous attempts. 

He also showed the jury an ISIS propaganda video, "Flames of War," showing fighters shooting rocket-propelled grenades and said the men on trial knew what they were getting into.

The men were inspired by two friends, Abdi Nur and Hanad Mohallim, who successfully joined ISIS in Syria, Winter added. Mohallim is believed dead. Nur, who is at large, encouraged defendant Guled Omar to carry out "terrorist acts in Minnesota," Winter said.

  In their opening statements, prosecutors quickly used evidence provided by an FBI informant, Abdirahman Bashir, who was part of the conspiracy.

In December 2014, Bashir, after feeling the heat of the investigation and discovering four of his cousins had been killed in an airstrike in Syria, decided to cooperate with the government and secretly tape recorded the conversations of his friends, authorities say.

The defense attorneys are expected to make their opening statements this afternoon.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen

Day 2: Tuesday, May 10

Jury selection complete | 9 p.m.

Sixteen people — all of whom appear to be white — have been selected as the jury for the case of three Minnesota men accused of trying to join ISIS.

  The jury comprises eight men and eight women, including a hotel worker, a high school teacher, a musician and a retiree.  

Thirty-two potential jurors have been dismissed, including a man from Kenya and a man with a Muslim name whose cousin, a U.S. Marine, died while serving in Afghanistan.

  One female, who said she was about to start a new job Monday, was excused.

  "Bye, bye," said Judge Davis, and laughter erupted in the courtroom.

  Davis urged the jurors to look at testimonies critically without having a preconceived bias against the defendants.

  Murad Mohammad, lawyer for Mohamed Farah, asked potential jurors of 36 people if they would have difficulty bringing back a not guilty verdict. They all said no.  

"This is the most important case of his life," said Mohammed, pointing toward his client who was sitting nearby. "This will be the biggest decision of your life."

  "This isn't a trial defending the acts of terror," he reminded them.  

Bruce Nestor, attorney for Abdirahman Daud, told the 36 potential jurors that they should not believe that the government's evidence "are more believable."  

He asked them what they think about the "Sharia Law" term.  

"Sharia Law," one man said, "from what I understand, is what ISIL is imposing on people."  

"Do I want to be under Sharia Law?" another said. "Not in my lifetime."

  The government also asked the potential jurors a series of questions, such as if they are biased against law enforcement and if they think the government unfairly targets certain minority communities.   

"These are kids," one woman said of the defendants. "They were not this way. Somebody influenced them."  

Prosecutors said they will show graphic ISIS videos showing beheading and killings.    

A prosecutor asked prospective jurors if they believe it's nobody's business if an American wants to leave the country for Syria.  

"I feel that way," said a woman who grew up in a law enforcement family. "But I don't want them come (back)."  

Whether she knew it, the woman had touched on a fear shared by federal authorities. The concern is that ISIS enlistees could become more radicalized overseas and return to the West to do harm. But in most of the known cases of alleged ISIS recruits from Minnesota who made it to the Middle East, the men have died in battle.

    It took U.S. District Judge Michael Davis and attorneys on both sides two days to select the jury, with dozens of potential jurors being excused for a variety of reasons ranging from bias to insufficient time for a trial that could last weeks.  

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to start Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

'This is a terrorism case' | 1:35 p.m.

As jury selection continued for the second day in the case of three men facing ISIS-related charges, a judge asked a new pool of 50 potential jurors whether they had heard or read anything related to the case and what they think about the issue of terrorism.

Several potential jurors asked to speak to the judge and attorneys on the side, with microphones off, when U.S. Judge Michael Davis asked them about their stance on terrorism. 

"This is a terrorism case," Davis said. "There's no doubt that some evidence will be disturbing and frightening."

Some of the prospective jurors who asked to speak in private were excused.

One woman fought back tears while admitting she might have "too much empathy" for the defendants, which meant she likely could not remain fair. Davis told her she could leave.

"Every defendant is presumed innocent of the charges made against him," Davis reminded the potential jurors. 

Most of the new prospective jurors are white, and the judge asked them if they had interacted with minority groups. 

Davis repeatedly asked the potential jurors if they have any feelings that might affect their impartiality.  

"As far as terrorism, that's a loaded term," one woman said. "I would say these gentlemen, as of now, are innocent."

One woman who said she works for American Security said the faces of the defendants looked familiar to her; she said they might have worked for the company or applied for jobs there.

She smiled at one of them as she was excused to leave.

An issue Davis has just scantly covered is the jurors' perceptions of Islam. He pointedly asked a potential juror who watches "The O'Reilly Factor" whether he had any biases toward Muslims.

The man responded that he's worked with many different people, including those of Somali descent, and he evaluates people as individuals rather than lumping them together. 

Of the three defendants, the man said: "The government obviously believes there is a case for them to be here, but any institution is capable of error."

Unlike the opening day of jury selection, when the courtroom was packed, only a handful of Somali-American community members were present in the courtroom.

— Mukhtar Ibrahim

Day 1: Monday, May 9

Jury selection continues Tuesday | 7:17 p.m.

  More than two dozen potential jurors were excused from a pool of 50 people on Monday. The reasons varied widely.  

Some said they couldn't commit to a trial that might last as long as four weeks because of family issues or serving jury duty for that long could cause a financial hardship. 

Judge Michael Davis asked one potential juror if she thought the men are innocent or guilty.

"I don't know," she said.

"You didn't listen to me," Davis said, who told jurors that the men are innocent until proven guilty. 

But several potential jurors said they thought the men were guilty. They cited media coverage of the cases.

"When I hear about the word terrorism, I immediately think ... guilty," one potential juror said.

"To be honest," another said, "it was uncomfortable just being in the room."

One African-American man who said he didn't trust the police was excused, as was a white police officer and veteran who had served in the war in Afghanistan.

Most of the jury pool appears to be white.

"We must have a diverse jury," community leader Sadik Warfa said outside the court building. 

Another pool of 50 jurors will be questioned Tuesday.

Family members of the defendants said they were stunned that potential jurors have already made up their minds when they said they think the young men were guilty. 

Prosecutors say they intend to call about 30 witnesses, including an FBI informant, two defendants who pleaded guilty, several Somalis and Amina Aden, a Minneapolis FBI agent.  

The security inside the courthouse was tight. Ayan Farah, mother of one of the defendants, Mohamed Farah, said she wasn't allowed to come back to the courtroom after she took her younger son to the bathroom.

A veiled woman said a security guard came up to her while she was praying inside the hall. "He told me to leave," she said. 

The woman said she continued to pray.

11 of 50 potential jurors excused | 3:30 p.m.

Jury selection is underway in Minnesota's first ISIS trial. By mid-afternoon Monday, 11 potential jurors had been excused, out of a pool of 50. 

Judge Michael Davis asked potential jurors whether they could be impartial in the case, whether they know anything about the case, and about their views on terrorism. One African-American man told the judge he doesn't trust the police, and was excused. 

The jury pool is largely white. 

Judge denies Farah bid for new lawyer | 10:15 a.m.

Minutes before jury selection was expected to begin for Minnesota's first ISIS trial, one of the three defendants told a federal judge he had "zero confidence" in his attorney and requested a new one. 

But U.S. District judge Michael Davis denied the request from Mohamed Farah, reminding the 22-year-old man that he gave him every opportunity to express dissatisfaction with lawyer Murad Mohammad at a hearing on April 1. 

Farah said Monday that Mohammad had not even gone over the evidence with him at the jail where he is being held. Farah also alleged that Mohammad was pressuring him to plead guilty. 

"I have absolutely no trust in him," Farah said, adding that he was at first comforted by having Mohammad on his defense team because he is Muslim. 

Mohammad asked to be taken off the case last week, saying he hadn't been paid by Farah's family since September.

—  Laura Yuen