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A look at Minneapolis' terror-related trial

Sunday - 9/30/2012, 1:27pm  ET

By The Associated Press

(AP) - THE DEFENDANT: Mahamud Said Omar, 46, of Minneapolis, goes on trial Monday on five terrorism-related counts as part of the federal government's long-running investigation of American Somalis recruited to fight with al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terror group waging attacks in Somalia.

THE ALLEGATIONS: Prosecutors say Omar encouraged and helped others travel to Somalia to fight. He's accused of giving them money for travel or other provisions, and accompanying six men to a travel agency to help them procure tickets.

He traveled to Somalia himself in early 2008 and stayed at an al-Shabab safe house with other Minnesota men, including one who later carried out a suicide bombing in Somalia. He is also accused of paying for assault rifles for fighters.

THE DEFENSE: Defense attorneys say Omar is not guilty and has never harmed the United States. His family has said he is ill, and doesn't have the mental capacity to be a terrorist.

WHY THE TRIAL MATTERS: Omar is one of 18 men charged in the investigation into those who left Minnesota to join al-Shabab, but is the first one to go to trial, giving the government a chance to publicly explain how young Somalis have been recruited from Minneapolis.

It's estimated the trial will last about three weeks.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)