Guled Ali Omar is a Kenyan-born Minnesota man and convicted ISIS conspirator. Omar was arrested on April 18, 2015, and charged with conspiring to provide material support to the terror group.Scott Shane, “6 Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS,” New York Times, April 20, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/21/us/6-somali-americans-arrested-in-isis-recruiting-case.html?_r=0. He and a group of eight friends had been monitored by the FBI for months as they planned to travel to Syria to fight alongside ISIS.Scott Shane, “6 Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS,” New York Times, April 20, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/21/us/6-somali-americans-arrested-in-isis-recruiting-case.html?_r=0.
Omar’s brother, Ahmed Ali Omar, left his home in Minnesota in 2007 and traveled to Somalia to join the terror group al-Shabab.Laura Yuen and Sasha Aslanian, “Minnesota pipeline to al-Shabab,” MPR News, September 25, 2013, http://minnesota.publicradio.org/projects/ongoing/somali_timeline/. Ahmed is believed to remain at large in Somalia.Scott Shane, “6 Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS,” New York Times, April 20, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/21/us/6-somali-americans-arrested-in-isis-recruiting-case.html?_r=0.
On October 21, 2015, Omar was charged with a new count of conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States.Associated Press, “Superseding indictment has new details in ISIL case,” Kare 11, October 21, 2015, http://www.kare11.com/story/news/crime/2015/10/21/superseding-indictment-has-new-details-in-isil-case/74357926/. Prosecutors alleged in April of 2016 that Omar had conspired to build a route from Mexico to the United States through which to smuggle ISIS assailants. According to prosecutors, Omar had planned to urge ISIS members to send operatives through the route in order to execute attacks in the United States.William Watkinson, “Isis recruiters planned on open jihadi smuggling route from Syria through Mexico into US,” International Business Times, April 22, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-recruiters-planned-open-jihadi-smuggling-route-syria-through-mexico-into-us-1556317.
In early June of 2016, Omar was found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization, as well as conspiring to commit murder overseas.Jack Healy and Matt Furber, “3 Somali-Americans Found Guilty of Trying to Join Islamic State,” New York Times, June 3, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/04/us/somali-americans-verdict-minneapolis-isis.html?_r=0. He was found guilty alongside co-conspirators Abdurahman Yasin Daud and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah.Aamer Madhani, “3 Minneapolis men found guilty in plot to join ISIL,” USA Today, June 3, 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/06/03/3-minneapolis-men-found-guilty-plot-join-isil/85355076/. Later in the month, attorneys for Daud and Omar filed to have their clients assessed for placement in a deradicalization and rehabilitation program.Lara Yuen, “2 men convicted on ISIS-related charges ask for rehabilitation,” Minnesota Public Radio, June 30, 2016, http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/06/30/two-men-convicted-isis-related-charges-seek-rehabilitation-deradicalization. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis denied Omar’s request for German terrorism expert David Koehler to assess Omar’s risk and possibly recommend “intervention needs.”MPR News Staff, “2 guilty in Minnesota ISIS trial denied deradicalization review,” MPR News, July 5, 2013, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/07/05/isis-defendants-minnesota-barred-de-radicalization-program.
On November 16, 2016, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis sentenced Omar to 35 years in prison—the harshest sentence among the group of co-conspirators. As he awaited his sentence, Omar told the court through tears, “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. I always had energy for justice as a young man but I lost my way.”Laura Yuen and Doualy Xaykaothao, “Judge sentences three men to decades in prison in ISIS trial,” November 16, 2016, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/11/16/third-day-of-isis-trial. In response, prosecutor Andrew Winter told the court that Omar’s statement could not be trusted, and that, “Only when backed into a corner, does [Omar] attempt to offer false contrition. You can’t fix manipulative. You can’t fix deceitful. And you can’t fix Guled Omar.”Laura Yuen and Doualy Xaykaothao, “Judge sentences three men to decades in prison in ISIS trial,” November 16, 2016, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/11/16/third-day-of-isis-trial. In media reports of his sentencing, Omar was described as a one-time leader of the Minnesotan ISIS cell.Associated Press, “Leader of Minnesota 'terrorist cell' gets 35 years in jail for plot to join ISIS,” Fox News, November 16, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/11/16/leader-minnesota-terrorist-cell-gets-35-years-in-jail-for-plot-to-join-isis.html.
Among the individuals tried as part of the ISIS recruitment cell were co-conspirators Abdurahman Yasin Daud, Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, Hanad Mustafe Musse, Adnan Farah, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, Abdullahi Yusuf, Hamza Naj Ahmed, and Abdirizak Warsame.