Witness: Minn. terror defendant not at meetings

Associated Press Modified: October 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: October 10, 2012
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Testimony in the trial's first two weeks has revealed details about how recruiters worked in Minneapolis, including who might have taken lead roles in recruiting, how travel was arranged and efforts to keep the plan a secret.

Omar's attorneys are expected to question Hassan on Thursday.

Hassan's description of how he was persuaded to travel to Somalia echoed earlier testimony by two other men. He described first hearing of the idea at Abubakar, the mosque, during Ramadan 2007.

He said men involved in the plan appealed to his feelings of nationalism and religious beliefs — telling him it was his duty as a Somali and a Muslim to go fight. He said he also had a fiancee in Mogadishu whom he had lost contact with and was trying to reach.

Hassan said he hadn't heard of al-Shabab before the trip, and once he got there, he was told the group was trying to establish a strict form of Sharia law in Somalia and neighboring countries, "all the way to Jerusalem," Hassan said.

Hassan spent about three months in a training camp in Somalia. Key leaders of al-Shabab were there, including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, al-Qaida's East Africa planner who was killed in a helicopter strike in Somalia in 2009; Jehad Mostafa, a California man and al-Shabab leader under Nabhan; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama man who appears in the group's recruitment videos.

Near the end of Hassan's time at the training camp, a media crew arrived to film some of the exercises. Hassan was given a speaking role in that video. Hassan also appeared in the video of the ambush of Ethiopian troops, and in a video in which another Minneapolis man speaks — urging brothers overseas to join the fight.

After the ambush, Hassan was given permission to go visit family in Merca — and he did not return to al-Shabab. He was eventually arrested and returned to the U.S. He began working with the FBI, but let others believe he was still with al-Shabab. He awaits sentencing on two terror-related counts and one count of lying to the FBI.