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Minnesota men sentenced in Somali terror case

MINNEAPOLIS — Two men who left Minnesota to join the terrorist group Al Shabab in Somalia were sentenced to three years in federal prison Tuesday, getting reduced sentences for their cooperation with the government’s investigation into what has been called one of the largest efforts to recruit US fighters into a foreign terror group.

Abdifatah Yusuf Isse and Salah Osman Ahmed both traveled to Somalia in 2007 and spent about a week in an Al Shabab training camp. They found a way to leave the camp once they learned what Al Shabab was all about.

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They each pleaded guilty in 2009 to one count of providing material support to a terrorist group. They each faced a maximum of 15 years in prison. But prosecutors asked for sentences of around six to seven years because both cooperated with the investigation.

US District Judge Michael Davis gave the two men three years apiece; they are expected to get credit for time served.

Later Tuesday, Davis handed down a 12-year sentence to Omer Abdi Mohamed, who allegedly served as a recruiter for Al Shabab in the United States. He pleaded guilty in 2011 on the eve of going to trial on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. He also faced a maximum of 15 years in prison but prosecutors asked for less time because of his cooperation.

Unlike several other defendants in the case, Mohamed was not accused of traveling to Somalia to fight for Al Shabab, though he admitted to helping some Minnesota men get plane tickets to Somalia.

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