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Trial starts for Somali youth entrapped by FBI

By Jess Sundin |
May 10, 2016
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Rally supporting Somali youth entrapped by FBI
Rally supporting Somali youth entrapped by FBI (Photo by Jess Sundin)

Minneapolis, MN - More than 100 people came to the Minneapolis Federal Courts Building to support three Muslim youth from the Somali community charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and to commit murder abroad. The trial began May 9, for Guled Ali Omar, 21; Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 22; and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 22, who were entrapped by the FBI and now face possible life sentences.

Family and friends of the young men were joined by some 20 activists and leaders of the local anti-war movement who rallied outside before entering the courthouse. Sophia Hansen Day of the Anti-War Committee said, “We know the U.S. government has a long history of criminalizing entire communities of oppressed people. While the federal prosecutors are framing this case under the specter of terrorism, in reality this is an escalation in the ongoing attack against the Muslim community generally and the Somali community specifically. This is about sowing fear and dividing our communities. Since 9/11, the U.S. government has targeted Muslim community members and manufactured terror cases to justify massive spending for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and criminalize people whose homelands are being bombed by the U.S. government.”

Sarah Martin of Women Against Military Madness encouraged supporters to return again and again, for a complicated trial that is expected to last four weeks. The rally was chaired by Karen Redleaf of the newly-formed Coalition to Defend the Muslim Community.

Inside the courtroom, Mohamed Farah appeared in his orange jail-issue clothing, while Omar and Daud were wearing suits. Seated at three separate tables, each with their attorney, a fourth table was occupied by a team of government prosecutors. U.S District Judge Michael Davis first heard from attorney Murad Mohammad, who filed a motion to withdraw as Farah’s attorney. Farah explained his distrust, saying the attorney had only met with him few times, pressuring him to plead guilty, and badgering him about payment, rather than preparing a defense. Judge Davis denied the motion, leaving Farah with a so-called defense attorney who failed to even arrange appropriate attire for his client to appear in court.

Several other motions were considered, most decided in the government’s favor, and the rest of the day was dedicated to jury selection. Out of a pool of 50 potential jurors, half of them were dismissed by Judge Davis, many admitting that they could not be impartial in the case. Jury selection will continue on Tuesday, and opening statements are expected Wednesday, May 11. Family, friends and supporters of the young men are expected to continue filling the courtroom and an overflow room.

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