A Minnesota court on Wednesday (16 November) awarded a 35-year jail term to a Somali-American man on terror-related charges. The court described the man as the chief of a group that planned to travel to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis).
Guled Omar, 22, was one among three Isis (Daesh) defendants who plotted to travel to the war-torn country. His other two accomplices — Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah — both aged 22, received 30 years each.
The three of them were convicted by a jury in June and were accused of supplying illegal materials to a foreign terrorist organisation and plotting to commit murder outside the US.
While waiting for the US district judge Michael Davis to read the ruling, Omar told the court that he understood the severity of his conviction. However, his friend-cum-accomplice, Farah argued that he was not a terrorist.
"Your honor, it's a very good question. What I say to you is the actions I've done are what terrorists would do, but that I feel like that I'm not, your honor," Farah asserted when asked if he was a terrorist.
"I'm not a terrorist, your honor. But I understand the mistakes I've done and the crimes I've committed," he added.
Before the verdict, Omar said, "I always had energy for justice as a young man but I lost my way."
But federal prosecutors, who demanded at least 40 years of jail time for Omar, said he was the mastermind of a young group of nine men and the most devious of them.
Prosecutor Andrew Winter labelled Omar's tears as crocodile tears and said, "Only when backed into a corner, does he attempt to offer false contrition. You can't fix manipulative. You can't fix deceitful. And you can't fix Guled Omar".
Judge Davis described the set of young men as a "terrorist cell" and said he didn't believe Omar's words of regret.