MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the final three defendants in a group of Minnesota men for their roles in a plot to leave the United States and fight for the Islamic State group.
Guled Omar, 22, described as the leader of the group, was sentenced to 35 years in prison – the harshest sentence of all the nine young men. He allegedly planned to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State.
"I understand the seriousness of what I've been convicted of, and I understand that I will not be able to go home anytime soon,” Omar told U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, according to reports. "I always had energy for justice as a young man but I lost my way."
Omar's statement caused his mother to sob uncontrollably and another family member to leave the courtroom to collect their emotions, according to Minnesota’s NPR affiliate.
But the judge wasn’t buying Omar's apologies and remorse.
"Everything you have said here, I don't believe,” Davis reportedly said.
Two other members of what Davis repeatedly called a "terrorist cell"— Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud – were each sentenced 30 years in prison. Both are 22 years old.
Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement that “the defendants sentenced today remind us that this ideology ruins the lives of those who ascribe to it.”
“Omar, Daud and Farah will spend the next several decades in prison because of their unbreakable desire to kill on behalf of ISIL,” Luger said.
In June, a jury convicted Omar, Farah and Daud of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States.
Over a span of six months, Farah tried to leave the country twice — a problem acknowledged by his attorney, Murad Mohammad, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
In November 2014, he was one of four men who took Greyhound buses to New York in hopes of taking planes to the Middle East, before they were stopped by federal agents at John F. Kennedy airport, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Six other men who pleaded guilty were sentenced Monday and Tuesday: Abdullahi Yusuf, 20, to time already served, plus 20 years' supervised release; Abdirizak Warsame, 21, to 30 months in prison; Zacharia Abdurahman, 21, to 10 years in prison; Hamza Ahmed, 21, to 15 years in prison; Hanad Musse, 21, to 10 years in prison; and Adnan Farah, 20, to 10 years in prison.
Minneapolis is home to the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the United States, and has been a target for terrorist recruiters.
U.S. Attorney Luger has said that Minnesota has a “terror recruiting problem.”
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