Conspirator turned FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir remained on the stand as the prosecution played three more hours of conversations with the defendants that he secretly recorded in February, March and April 2015. Judge Davis excused the jury for the weekend at 12:30.
During their opening statements, defense counsel portrayed the three defendants as innocents ensnared by the government. Defense counsel sought to create the impression that their clients’ interest in Syria was humanitarian and their efforts to join ISIS the fruit of a government plot. The recordings destroy this impression. The entrapment defense will not fly.
Based on the recordings played so far, I conclude that defendants ardently sought to join ISIS in Syria. They burned with the desire to leave the United States to get to ISIS. Their buddy Abdi Nur had made it. They remained in contact with him; they envied him.
The prosecution played a March 15 late evening recording of Bashir, convicted conspirator Zacharia Abdurahman and defendant Guled Omar speaking with Nur via Skype. Their excitement was palpable. They were giddy with joy. “We gonna be with you soon, bro, in jannah [heaven] or dunya [this world],” Abdurahman said.
The defendants wanted to wage jihad with ISIS. As much as they wanted to wage jihad with ISIS, they wanted to die waging jihad.
Omar reported with awe that Nur had distinguished himself sufficiently to have been chosen for a leadership position. In another conversation on March 26, however, Omar expressed annoyance with Nur. Nur told Omar that ISIS had hacked a database with the names and addresses of 16 pilots involved in airstrikes on Kobane that killed their friends who had joined ISIS.
Omar angrily recounted how Nur had sent him a link to the names and addresses of the pilots. “How dare you,” Omar says he responded.
“I accidentally clicked the link,” he says. Omar protested that his access to the link could easily be traced. Nur told Omar that “those are the people whose hands our brothers’ blood is on.” Nur wanted them to take action on the information. “He thinks it’s a battlefield over here,” Omar said. “He thinks it’s as easy as it is over there.”
Envisioning the final battle between Christians and Muslims, Omar asserts: “Kuffar are getting it. Allah will not let America be a superpower for this long. Wallahi their time is coming.” Thank you, President Obama.
On March 28 as they ate at a Karmel Mall restaurant in south Minneapolis, Omar opined: “One thing I will agree with you on is that 2016 the world is going to change.” Omar helpfully explained: “After a Republican takes office…I know for a fact that when a Republican takes office in 2016, it’s a done deal.”
Readers may recall that Abdi Warsame is another of the “Minnesota men” who has pleaded guilty. Like Bashir, Warsame also worked at the airport in 2013. In a conversation with Bashir and Omar recorded late in the evening of April 1, Warsame says he knows how to make a homemade rocket propelled grenade. Homemade rockets, he explains, can reach 2,000 feet. “That means if we hit a plane it’s coming down,” he helpfully notes. “I have tubes at my house,” he adds.
Omar disparages the FBI: “All they know is to follow people in a freaking car.” Wrong, bro.
In this conversation Warsame also recounts that “Sheikh Hassan [Mohamud] — the big one in St. Paul” — taught him how to pray on the battlefield during jihad. “Sheikh Hassan” is also a legal assistant working for an attorney who formerly represented defendant Mohamud Farah. Farah is now represented exclusively by Minneapolis attorney Murad Muhammad.
As Star Tribune reporter Stephen Montemayor observes regarding one of the late March recordings played yesterday morning, Warsame sought to quell Omar’s concerns over whether it was wise to again try to leave alongside others now under FBI surveillance. Warsame suggested that perhaps Allah would grant Omar success on what would be his fourth alleged attempt, since it signaled Omar was someone who keeps trying.
“Bro, I’m just trying to get there, bro,” Omar said. “That’s it. Just take me there.”
In an April 3 recording of Abdurahman and Farah at Dar Al-Farooq Mosque in south Minneapolis, Farah mocked the deaths of American soldiers fighting in the Middle East. Young men killed fighting for ISIS are considered “brainwashed” but young men killed fighting for the U.S. military are “heroes.”
“That’s America…my son died for freedom,” Abdurahman said in the audio.
“My son died for freedom, he died for democracy,” Farah said. “He’s a hero.”
“A hero,” Abdurahman said.
NOTE: KSTP News digital reporter Jennie Lissarague (on Twitter @JennieJoy) has the best account of the recordings in evidence. Her account of the recordings played yesterday is posted here. I turned to it for help above. I’ve left out a lot to cut to the chase. Jennie’s summary is worth reading in its entirety.