Man accused of trying to go to Syria to remain held

Published 10:34 am Friday, June 12, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ruled Thursday that a Minnesota man accused of making two separate attempts to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group should remain in custody, saying the 21-year-old was a flight risk and no conditions of release could guarantee the public’s safety.

Mohamed Abdihamid Farah was one of six friends arrested in April and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Farah was also charged with two counts of attempting to provide such support and one count of lying to the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said Farah was a longstanding member of the conspiracy and had been helping others in their travel attempts since at least last spring. He argued Farah should remain in custody, noting that he had tried twice to join “a staggeringly violent criminal organization,” lied to authorities and made a comment to a government informant that he would kill FBI agents “if our backs are against the wall.”

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“I think it’s fair to say, that at this moment in time, the defendant’s back is against the wall,” Winter said.

Farah’s attorney, Patrick Nwaneri, argued Farah should be released, saying he comes from a good family. He submitted a plan to Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis that proposed Farah be allowed to stay with his family, at a halfway house or at a St. Paul mosque.