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2 Somali-Americans Sentenced for Plotting to Join IS

  • VOA News

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office in Elk River, Minnesota, shows Hanad Musse, who was sentenced Nov. 15, 2016, to 10 years in prison for conspiring to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

Two more Somali-American men have been sentenced to prison for conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State.

Hanad Musse, 21, is one of nine friends in Minnesota's large Somali community who are being sentenced this week for conspiring to join the militant group. Earlier Tuesday, one of his co-defendants, Hamza Ahmed, received 15 years on charges connected to the plot.

Musse, Ahmed and two other men traveled to New York in November 2014, planning to travel to Greece and then on to Syria. They were taken off a plane by federal agents.

Prosecutors said they were part of a group of friends who began encouraging each other to join Islamic State militants in the spring of 2014. Some of their friends made it to Syria, but the nine who were prosecuted did not.

On Monday, three other Somali-Americans were sentenced to prison. Two of them who cooperated with authorities were given light sentences. Multiple year sentences were handed down to those who did not, including Musse and Ahmed.

Four others await sentencing, including three who went to trial and also were convicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S., which carries a possible life sentence, although prosecutors are seeking sentences of 30 or 40 years.

The Minneapolis area is home to a large population of Somali expatriates. U.S. authorities have said dozens of young Somali-Americans have left the area since 2007 to join al Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate based in Somalia.

In 2014, FBI officials said they had begun tracking a group of Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area to Syria in general, and to Islamic State-held areas in particular.