Three Somali-Americans Sentenced in Minnesota for Plotting to Join Islamic State Terrorist Group

The harshest sentence was given to Zacharia Abdurahman, who got 10 years in prison

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FILE - Militants of the Islamic State group hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria. VOA

Minnesota, Nov 14, 2016: A U.S. judge in Minnesota has given jail time to three Somali-Americans found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State, but rewarded two of them with lighter sentences for cooperating with the government.

The harshest sentence was given to Zacharia Abdurahman, who got 10 years in prison. Abdurahman pleaded guilty but did not cooperate with the U.S. government against his friends, who also plotted to join Islamic State.

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FILE - Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, VOA
FILE – Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, VOA

The prosecution wanted 15 years in prison for Abdurahman, who broke down in court. The judge, Michael Davis, made it clear that Abdurahman received the toughest sentence because he did not testify against his former co-conspirators.

Abdurahman was stopped at JFK International Airport in New York in 2014 while attempting to travel to Greece on his way to Syria to join Islamic State. The following year, he was involved in a second attempt to travel to Syria.

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Also sentenced Monday was Abdirazak Warsame and Abdullahi Yusuf, both of whom cooperated with the U.S. government. Warsame received 30 months in prison, while Yusuf was released for time served in prison — the 21 months he already had been in jail. Both testified against their former friends.

Warsame was accused of planning to travel first to Somalia and then to Syria. He also was accused of encouraging others to travel to Syria, including Yusuf.

FILE - Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, VOA
FILE – Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, VOA

The judge said he believed Warsame’s cooperation with authorities was a matter of convenience, while Yusuf’s cooperation was more believable. He said it wouldn’t make sense to send Yusuf to prison for longer because the government would miss a chance to help him. Davis said he hoped to see Yusuf rehabilitated.

Yusuf reportedly told the judge after the sentence was read, “I won’t let you down, your honor.” His family expressed relief after the sentencing.

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Minnesota prosecutor Andrew Luger said in a statement Monday, “The hard work of rehabilitating those who seek to engage in ideological violence must continue. Judge Davis recognized that fact today in his considered sentences for those defendants who cooperated with the government and have begun to disengage from ISIL’s violent ideology.”

Six other men are awaiting sentencing in the Islamic State-related terrorism case. Prosecutors have recommended the longest sentence — 40 years — for Guled Omar, one of three men who went on trial and was convicted by a jury.

On Sunday night, the parents of the defendants held prayers and a healing service at a mosque in Minneapolis, hoping for leniency from the judge. (VOA)

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