WASHINGTON - Opening statements are expected Wednesday in the federal trial of three Somali-Americans accused of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State group.
Mohamed Farah, 22, Guled Omar, 21, and Abdirahman Daud, 22, were among several Minnesota men who met numerous times from March 2014 to April 2015, seeking the best way to travel to Syria to join the terror group. The men were all stopped by law enforcement before they could board planes.
Federal prosecutors said the three have been charged with conspiring to commit murder outside the United States. Conviction carries the possibility of life in prison. All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Tuesday, 16 jurors — eight men and eight women — were selected for the trial that could last about three weeks.
Sadik Warfa, a Somali-America activist who was at Tuesday's trial session, told VOA's Somali service that one defendant requested a new lawyer, lacking confidence in his current attorney. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis denied the request.
Six other men who were part of the group have already pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to support to the Islamic State. Yet another man has been charged, but is believed to be in Syria with the IS group.
The trial could last approximately three weeks.
Minneapolis, Minnesota's largest city, has a large Somali community, and U.S. authorities say the city is ripe for extremists looking for would-be terrorists. Since 2007, a dozen Somali-Americans have left the state to join terrorist groups in Somalia and in recent years in Syria.