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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
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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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Somalia Calls To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

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FILE - A badge reads "The power of labor aginst FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

A spate of deaths of young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) has renewed calls for Somalia to outlaw the tradition.

Four girls, ages 10 and 11, from central and northern Somalia have died in the last three months after having been cut, and seven others are in hospitals, activists said.

“More and more cases of girls who have died or end up seriously injured after FGM are coming out,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, a local women’s group in the east African country.

“These cases confirm what we have been saying all along — that FGM kills and that we need a law to stop it,” Mohamed said. “The harm it causes is blatantly clear.”

 

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A Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country by the drought, shortly after dawn in Qardho, Somalia, March 9, 2017. VOA

 

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia, the United Nations says.

One of 28 African countries where the tradition is endemic, Somalia has the world’s highest rates of FGM — 98 percent of women between 15 and 49 have undergone the ritual.

Somalia’s constitution prohibits FGM, but efforts to pass legislation to punish offenders have been stalled by parliamentarians afraid of losing voters who view FGM as a part of their tradition.

Government and hospital officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths or hospital admissions.

The charity Save the Children said it rescued seven girls — aged between 5 and 8 years old — on Sunday from Somalia’s northern Puntland state. The girls had undergone FGM and were bleeding excessively; they are now receiving hospital treatment.

Somalia
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“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg as many more cases go unreported,” said Timothy Bishop, country director of Save the Children in Somalia.

Campaigners said Suheyra Qorane Farah, 10, from Puntland died Sunday after contracting tetanus, having undergone FGM on Aug. 29.

Two sisters, Aasiyo and Khadijo Farah Abdi Warsame, age 10 and 11, from the same region bled to death Sept. 11 after visiting a cutter across the border in neighboring Ethiopia.

The death of Deeqa Nuur, 10, in July from severe bleeding following FGM prompted the attorney general to initiate Somalia’s first prosecution against FGM — using existing laws — but the investigation has faced challenges.

Also Read: Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV- UNICEF

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

“A specific law can express punishments and specify stiffer penalties, ensure that all accomplices are held accountable, and gives guidance on the kind of evidence needed to prove the crime,” she said. (VOA)