Man testifies at his own trail – gives conflicting stories and excuses about his intentions.
Guled Ali Omar, 21, is one of three men on trial in Minnesota, on multiple counts. The most serious charge against him is conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States, which carries the possibility of life in prison.
Omar was part of a group of 10 Somalians the FBI was tracking, who recruited and inspired each other to go to Syria and join ISIS. Six have already pleaded guilty, three are currently on trial, and one is believed to have fled to Syria.
The trial is currently in its third week. Prosecutors have played secretly recorded conversations, where he discussed travel plans and the possibility of obtaining fake passports to go to Syria via Mexico.
In self-defense, Omar testified that the group was just talking about the political situation in Syria, but no one had any legitimate plans to travel there. Then he admitted another man in the group pressured him to leave the country, and said he was confused and conflicted about having to choose between his family and his religious beliefs.
Yet in another conflicting testimony, Omar explained his previous attempts to travel outside Minnesota were not to join militant groups, but were meant to be vacations.
Omar is the youngest brother of indicted fugitive Ahmed Ali Omar, who left the U.S. in late 2007 as part of the first wave of Somali-Americans in the Twin Cities to fight for Al-Shabab in Somalia.
According to the FBI, about a dozen Somalians have left Minnesota to join terrorist groups fighting in Syria in recent years. More than 22 men have joined al-Shabab in Somalia since 2007.
Minnesota has the largest number of Somalians in the US, estimated to be around 30,000, the majority of which have come via the refugee resettlement program.
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.