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A former al-Shabab member testified Thursday that he lied to the FBI and a federal judge about his involvement with the terrorist group.
Kamal Said Hassan, 27, is a witness for the U.S. government in its case against 46-year-old Mahamud Said Omar. Hassan traveled to Somalia in 2007 with other Twin Cities men to join al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist organization.
The U.S. government is charging Omar with providing support to terrorist organizations and conspiring to kill, maim or kidnap overseas.
Jon Hopeman, Omar’s attorney, questioned Hassan for several hours, covering both Hassan’s participation in al-Shabab activities and lies he told the FBI.
Hopeman also established that Hassan was never aware of Omar’s involvement in planning for the trip to Somalia.
Omar worked as a custodian at a Minneapolis mosque that Hassan attended daily in 2007.
In a series of rapid-fire questions, Hopeman asked Hassan about Omar’s demeanor, and Hassan agreed Omar was a hard worker and a friendly presence at the mosque.
Hopeman asked Hassan if he ever witnessed Omar attending a planning meeting, providing money for the trip, receiving weapons training or talking about dying in a holy war. Hassan said he did not.
“He never tried to talk you into doing anything, right?” Hopeman asked, and Hassan agreed.
When later questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Narus, however, Hassan said some men who were later involved with al-Shabab did not attend planning meetings, some out of fear of being seen.
Hassan became an FBI informant after leaving al-Shabab in August 2008. His cooperation with the FBI and the U.S. government reduced his maximum possible sentence from life to 30 years.
After his deception of the FBI was discovered, the government brought his sentence up to 38 years.