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Minn. witness describes early al-Shabab recruiting

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012

Hopeman said Ahmed committed "very serious crimes."

"You knew the only way you could get a key to the jail was by cooperating with the government," Hopeman said. Ahmed replied that telling the truth was better than being quiet and spending life in prison.

Hopeman asked Ahmed if he was a criminal, or a terrorist. When Ahmed replied no, Hopeman asked, "Are you a junior terrorist? ... Are you an assistant terrorist?" Ahmed said he thought he was protecting his country.

After his testimony, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis dismissed jurors for an afternoon break, then changed the conditions of Ahmed's release, putting him back on location monitoring. Davis also said Ahmed must turn in his passport and refrain from getting a new one, and he forbade Ahmed from leaving Minnesota without permission.

Ahmed's attorney, Jim Ostgard, asked Davis why he changed the conditions. Davis responded that he "listened to his testimony" and noted another judge had the case initially.

"I'm putting electronic monitoring on him so I know where he's at, unless you would like him taken into custody," Davis said.

Another Minnesotan who went to Somalia also began testifying Tuesday.

Kamal Said Hassan, 27, said he was a "foot soldier" for al-Shabab. He said that he first learned about the idea of going to fight for al-Shabab from Ahmed at a mosque during Ramadan in 2007.

Hassan said he considered some people leaders of the recruiting in Minnesota, and others were "senior members" of the group. He classified himself and Hassan as recruits. He said members of the group held secret meetings to talk about traveling to fight against Ethiopians and ways to raise money for tickets.

In one meeting, the group got an update about fighting from someone in Somalia, Hassan said.

Hassan, who answered Narus' questions with "Yes, sir," or "No, sir," sad he knew Omar from Omar's work as a janitor at the mosque. He also said his parents knew Omar because they lived in the same apartment complex years earlier.

Narus asked if Hassan ever saw Omar at any of the secret meetings.

"No sir, I never saw him in any meeting," Hassan testified.

Hassan is expected to continue his testimony Wednesday.