Minnesota

Not dark yet

Featured image Today is the birthday of Minnesota native son Bob Dylan; he turns the ripe old age of 75. He is a remarkable artist, self-invented, deep in the American grain. A few years back I visited Dylan’s old home at 2425 7th Avenue East in Hibbing. The house is a small two-story residence with a one-car attached garage on the side. The house is exactly two blocks from Hibbing High School, »

Through the media looking-glass

Featured image The terrorism trial in progress before Judge Davis is important and interesting, but is difficult to understand through a media filter. The national media have mostly shied away from the trial. A couple of recent articles, however, offer exhibits A and B in the imposition of a gauzy filter over the case. The Los Angeles Times’s Matt Pearce took a detour from his trip to Minneapolis on the Prince beat »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (13)

Featured image The recordings made by conspirator turned informant Abdirahman Bashir took center stage for three hours at the trial of the three “Minnesota men” on Friday. They came in “fast and furious,” including so many items of interest that I found it hard to keep up as they were played in court. I therefore overlooked several in my post yesterday. Here is one with a little help from the Star Tribune’s »

Patrick Hogan would prefer not to

Featured image Conspirator turned informant Abdirahman Bashir testified to his former employment at the airport in the terrorism trial in progress before Judge Michael Davis in Minneapolis this past Thursday. I immediately wrote Metropolitan Airports Commission public affairs officer Patrick Hogan to ask for basic information regarding Bashir’s employment at the airport. It was information of the kind that Hogan had previously provided me on co-conspirator Abdirizak Warsame, who also worked at »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (12)

Featured image 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 »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (11)

Featured image Conspirator turned FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir testified all day Thursday. Bashir is one of three key witnesses, but if the prosecution has a star witness among them, it is probably Bashir. He is likely to remain on the stand through the half-day of the trial this morning. The highlight of Bashir’s testimony derives from his work undercover for the FBI once he turned informant in early 2014. He recorded conversations »

Minnesota men go to trial (10)

Featured image Conspirator turned FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir continued his testimony this morning. Bashir sought to join ISIS in Syria during 2013 along with the defendants. Just before lunch he testified that the FBI told him they would help him get his job back at the airport if he cooperated. What??? Bashir would therefore have been employed at the airport while he was seeking to join ISIS. Assistant Untied States Attorney just »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (9)

Featured image A minor witness testifying briefly yesterday made for a highly symbolic moment during the trial of the “Minnesota men” charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. In mid-afternoon The prosecution called Bashi Ibrahim to the stand. Ibrhaim required a Somali translator for his testimony. Though he arrived in Minnesota with the first wave of Somali immigrants almost 25 years ago, in 1992, he was unable to understand the »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (8)

Featured image When the first group of “Minnesota men” were charged with conspiring to join ISIS in April 2015, it made headlines in page-one stories all over the country. Scott Shaen reported in the New York Times, for example, “6 Minnesotans held in plot to join ISIS.” In the Wall Street Journal Andrew Grossman shared a byline with two other reporters announcing “U.S. charges six Minnesota men with trying to join ISIS.” »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (7)

Featured image Abdullahi Yusuf (pictured in the thumbnail on the home page) was the first three key prosecution witnesses to testify at trial. Yusuf has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material assistance to ISIS by joining the group in Syria. Three of his alleged co-conspirators and “former friends,” as he called them, are the defendants on trial. Yusuf’s cross examination extended through mid-afternoon yesterday. Representing Abdirahman Daud, defense attorney Bruce Nestor »

It’s the Islam, stupid

Featured image The professional journalists covering the trial of the “Minnesota men” before Judge Michael Davis include the Star Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor. I rely on his work, as well as that of MPR’s Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen, even when I am sitting next to him in court. Montemayor is a good and indefatigable reporter. If you want to know what’s going on during the day at trial, follow him on Twitter. »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (6)

Featured image On Friday one of the prosecution’s three key witnesses took the stand at the trial of the three “Minnesota men” contesting the charges that they conspired to provide material support to ISIS. Abdullahi Yusuf is one of six “Minnesota men” who have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy (I’m using his mug shot for the thumbnail on the home page). Testifying under a cooperation agreement with the government, Yusuf provided a »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (5)

Featured image Charles Lister remained on the witness stand for the entire day yesterday. He will retake the stand this morning. Lister is an expert on the Syrian civil war and the groups fighting it out. His most recent book is in fact The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency. The government has called Lister to provide the background on ISIS in Syria, the intended destination »

(DHS) Magical Mystery Tour: Too much of nothing

Featured image In “Prosecutors say member of alleged ISIL recruit’s defense team preached jihad,” Star Tribune reporter Stephen Montemayor noted in passing that local imams and Muslim “community leaders” had received a “behind-the-scenes security tour” in February at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Montemayor mentioned the tour when he noted that Hassan Mohamud — “Sheikh Hassan” — had been “uninvited” from the tour. What??? What tour? That’s where Montemayor left matters, so »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (4)

Featured image Things got interesting in court on Wednesday. Having seated the jurors at the end of the day on Tuesday, Judge Davis began the trial by reading the indictment and charging the jury on protocol. He then invited the parties to make their opening statements. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Winter gave the opening statement on behalf of the government, previewing the evidence that the prosecutors will introduce to support their »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (3)

Featured image After two days of voir dire involving a panel of 100 prospective jurors, we have a jury in the case of the three Somali Minnesotans charged with seeking to support ISIS and related offenses. The jury pool for federal court in Minneapolis draws on citizens in the southern part of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities but extending well beyond them to counties outstate. The prospective jurors called for this case »

“Minnesota men” go to trial (2)

Featured image The case against the three “Minnesota men” who have not pleaded guilty to terrorism charges related to efforts to join ISIS proceeded as scheduled yesterday before Judge Michael Davis in federal district court in Minneapolis. A large crowd of Somali supporters of the defendants filled the courtroom The morning was consumed with preliminary motions including one involving the possible withdrawal of attorney Murad Mohammad. Mohammad represents Mohamed Farah. Farah claims »