MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minnesota man described as a leader of a group of nine who plotted to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge who said he didn’t believe the man’s tearful apologies and words of contrition.
Guled Omar, 22, drew the longest sentence of the nine defendants who appeared before U.S. District Judge Michael Davis this week. However, the 35-year sentence was less than the 40 years prosecutors sought.
“I understand the seriousness of what I’ve been convicted of, and I understand that I will not be able to go home anytime soon,” Omar told the judge as he awaited his sentence. “I always had energy for justice as a young man but I lost my way.”
Omar’s statement sent his mother in the gallery into sobbing uncontrollably while other family members left the courtroom to collect their emotions. Davis didn’t buy it.
“Everything you have said here, I don’t believe,” Davis said.
Two other members of what Davis repeatedly called a “terrorist cell” - Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, both 22 - were sentenced earlier Wednesday to 30 years in prison apiece.
A jury convicted all three in June of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S. Prosecutors said the plot involved of a group of friends in the state’s large Somali community who inspired each other to join the militant group.
Six other defendants, who pleaded guilty instead of going to trial, were sentenced Monday and Tuesday to terms ranging from time served to 15 years, with long terms of supervised release for all. The two who cooperated with federal investigators got the lightest sentences.