Three Minnesota men convicted of conspiring to join Islamic State
Three Minnesota men were convicted on Friday of conspiring to commit murder in Syria on behalf of the Islamic State militant group, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Guled Omar, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah were convicted by a federal jury in Minnesota on multiple counts, the department said in a statement.
All three Somali-American men could face life in prison.
"The evidence of this case makes clear that Omar, Daud and Farah were not wayward kids who just got caught up in a fantasy," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger told a news conference after the verdicts were read.
"They wanted to fight for a brutal terrorist organization, kill innocent people, and destroy their own families in the process," Luger said.
In addition, Omar was found guilty of attempted financial aid fraud and Daud was found not guilty of perjury, said Ben Petok, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota.
The jury began deliberating Wednesday.
Farah's attorney, Murad Mohammad, said that he and his client were disappointed in the verdict. "We argued that the actions of my client did not rise to the level of conspiring to murder anyone or provide material support to ISIL, but the jury has spoken," said Mohammad, who used a different acronym to refer to Islamic State.
"Farah fell victim to ISIL's slick marketing campaign, dusted with enough misrepresentations of Islam to make it appear to be a legitimate Islamic organization," he said.
Lawyers for Daud and Omar did not immediately return requests for comment on the verdicts.
Prosecutors brought similar charges against 10 men - including the three convicted on Friday - whom they said were part of a group of friends and extended family who planned to go overseas to fight for Islamic State. IS has been designated by the United States as a terror group.
Six of the 10 pleaded guilty to providing material support to Islamic State and a seventh man is believed to be in Syria. Omar, Daud and Farah chose a trial.
The trial has exposed tensions in Minnesota's Somali community, where some believe the men were entrapped by prosecutors.