A U.S. federal jury has convicted a 46-year-old Somali national of conspiring to recruit young men from the Midwestern U.S. state of Minnesota to join the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group al-Shabab in its push to topple the Mogadishu government.
Defendant Mahamud Said Omar was found guilty by the Minneapolis jury on all five counts of giving material support to terrorists, and conspiracy to kill, kidnap and injure people overseas. Omar faces a possible sentence of life in prison.
A 2009 indictment accused Omar of giving money to more than 20 young men who traveled to east Africa from Minnesota to receive al-Shabab training.
During the 10-day trial, prosecutors showed the jury two al-Shabab propaganda videos. One video showed some of the men learning to use AK-47 assault rifles, belt-fed machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The other showed an ambush of Ethiopian peacekeepers.
Prosecution testimony came from three of the recruits who went to Somalia to fight, and from the sister of a Minneapolis man who died in an al-Shabab suicide attack.
U.S. authorities were alerted to Omar in 2007, when they began investigating the disappearances of young Somali men from the large Somali community in the Minneapolis area.
Omar later fled the country, but was extradited from the Netherlands earlier this year to stand trial.