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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.

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