Musse challenging 10-year prison sentence in ISIS trial

Hanad Mustafe Musse
Hanad Mustafe Musse
Courtesy Sherburne County Jail

In what is likely the first of many appeals, one of nine young men sentenced this week for his role in an ISIS conspiracy says he'll challenge his 10-year prison term.

Hanad Musse, 21, filed his notice of appeal Thursday afternoon. He was one of six men who pleaded guilty to conspiring to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group. Those six received sentences this week from U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ranging from time served — meaning no additional prison time — to 15 years.

At his sentencing hearing, Musse told the judge he was a "reckless and selfish" teenager when he got involved in the plot.

Even though he knew cooperating with the government would have likely resulted in a reduced sentence, he said, he couldn't bring himself to do it because he figured he would have lost his community's support.

The remaining three friends in the group were convicted of terrorism charges in June and will serve at least 30 years in prison.

The sentences stunned many Somali-Americans in Minnesota who believe the punishment did not fit the crime. All the defendants are now in their early 20s. They plotted to leave the United States to join a brutal terrorist movement but were stopped by their parents, or in many cases, by federal agents.

Friends and family react to Musse sentence.
Following Musse's sentencing of 10 years in prison and 20 years supervised release, his supporters became emotional in a hallway inside the Federal courthouse Tuesday.
David Joles | Star Tribune via AP

Davis said long sentences were needed to curb a "terror cell" in Minneapolis. At least six young men who left to fight alongside jihadi groups in Iraq or Syria in recent years are believed dead.

Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American community activist and blogger, said the stiff punishment for some of the defendants will hamper efforts to build bridges between the community and federal authorities who prosecuted the young men.

"One has to hope the judge is right about the deterrence message," Abdulahi wrote on his blog Thursday, "but the inevitable outcome is an already strained relationship between feds and community [that] will deteriorate further."

Your support makes a difference.

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.