Omar convicted of aiding Somali terrorists, faces life in prison
A jury deliberated 7 hours and 55 minutes over two days before finding the former $800-a-month part-time janitor guilty Thursday, Oct. 18, in the first -- and perhaps only -- terrorism conspiracy trial arising from the FBI investigation into the exodus of men from the Twin Cities to fight in Somalia for the militant Islamic group al-Shabaab.
One count he was convicted of -- conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure -- carries a sentence of up to life in prison. The other four counts each carry a 15-year sentence.
His involvement: He aided a group of local men who went to Somalia, and he contributed up to $2,400 to them and al-Shabaab.
U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said the conviction proved there is a day of legal reckoning when political expression turns to violence.
"There are some lines that you just cannot cross," he said. "The line, which should be real clear, is you can't go over there and support al-Shabaab."
Omar was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and two counts of providing material support to terrorists. Citing links to al-Qaida, the U.S. State Department designated al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist group in February 2008.
Omar's attorneys vowed an appeal. They took their first steps toward that even before the verdicts came, filing a motion asking Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis to enter one of their proposed trial exhibits -- which prosecutors had objected to -- into evidence "to preserve the record."
Asked his reaction to the verdict, defense attorney Jon Hopeman replied, "We're going to go lick our wounds."
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