Just nine days prior to the Orlando Islamic terrorist attack, guilty verdicts were issued in one of the biggest trials in U.S. history of Muslim immigrants who had turned into would-be jihadists, but the nation hardly noticed.
Out of a vast Somalian Muslim immigrant population, Minnesota sends more terrorist fighters to Syria and Iraq than any other state, but a cell of 10 who were plotting to go to Syria to join ISIS were caught before they achieve their goal.
Six have already pleaded guilty in April. Three took their chances with a jury trial, which ended June 3 with guilty verdicts for them as well, and one turned informant, working with the FBI to record conversations among his peers and provided key evidence to convict the others.
Hit with the guilty verdict on June 3, after a three-week trial, were Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21; Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21; and Guled Ali Omar, 20. Their friend-turned-informant is Abdirahman Bashir.
Mohamed Farah’s younger brother, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 20, was one of the group of six who pleaded guilty and is already behind bars.
Scott W. Johnson, of the City Journal, says he attended the trial for the entire three weeks, wanting to take in all the evidence for himself, and said he found it shocking. Johnson described the accused as first- or second-generation Somalis who “appear to be talented and resourceful young men, observant Muslims, supplementing their education with Islamic studies, and whose social lives centered around the mosques. “They wanted to live under the caliphate declared by ISIS, they yearned to wage jihad and to die as Islamic martyrs,” he said.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Related: Somalian Man In Minnesota On Trial For Plotting To Join ISIS[/pullquote]
Johnson estimates the Somali immigrant population in Minnesota to be around 140,000. “If Minnesota’s Somalians were a city, they would be the third-largest in Minnesota, after Minneapolis and St. Paul.” And they keep pumping out fighters to join ISIS – more than any other state.
Three of the suspects tried to leave Minnesota for Syria in 2014, but they were intercepted at JKF Airport. Mohamed Farah was one of those. He told the FBI agents who stopped him that he was on his way to vacation (alone) in Bulgaria.
The would-be jihadis tried it again in April 2015. This time the plan was to get to Syria by traveling through Mexico. By then, Bashir had turned informant and was working with the FBI, recording their conversations. They talked of trying to help ISIS fighters from Syria come to the U.S. by following their planned trip in reverse, traveling from Turkey to Mexico to San Diego. They spoke of waging jihad inside the United States on behalf of ISIS.
City Journal: Bashir’s covert recordings took center stage over several days at trial. In hours of recordings, the defendants expressed their desire to join ISIS, their regret over the failure of their previous efforts to make it out of the United States, their commitment to wage jihad against nonbelievers, and their ardent wish to die as martyrs. They expressed their contempt for the United States. They thrilled to the videos of ISIS butchery in the name of Allah. They talked excitedly about their communications with friends who had made it to join ISIS in Syria.
Johnson said what was most shocking about the trial was the reaction of the Minnesota Somali community. “So far as I can tell, Somali culture is alien and hostile to the United States. Many among the local Somali community considered the defendants to be persecuted innocents entrapped by the government.”
He said a brother of one defendant had been observed taking photos of the elevators, and was caught trying to smuggle scissors with six-inch blades into the courtroom, and had to be banned from the courthouse.
The Star Tribune published a commentary by Matthew Palombo on the case, attributing the whole thing to racism, especially since they were convicted by an all-white jury.
“This has been a disorienting, enraging and divisive experience for many in the Somali community, and for those of us close to the families and friends, the verdict comes as no surprise. Nobody expected these young men to get a fair trial — not in this political climate, not with the shrewd manipulations by the FBI, not with their skin color, not with their religion.”
Palombo says these young men were not violent – the victims have been the Somali people. He says ISIS is not “extreme religious ideology”, and there is no “jihadi pipeline” in Minnesota. Additionally, he claims that these young men were simply “hypermotivated to help victims in Syria, they experienced poverty, racism and Islamophobia.
According to Palombo, these would-be jihadis simply “needed a welcoming city where they could make the world a better place, and Minnesota failed them.”
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