Minn. Man Had Frequent Calls with Somali Travelers
A Minnesota man accused of helping supply fighters to a terror group in Somalia had frequent contact with several men before and after they made the trip from the U.S. in 2008, an FBI agent testified Monday.
Phone calls and text messages between Mahamud Said Omar and the six men also spiked right before each man left Minnesota for Somalia, FBI Special Agent Kasey Villarrell testified.
In all, the agency documented 420 contacts between Omar and the men from Aug. 6, 2008, to Nov. 25, 2008. The content of the messages wasn't analyzed.
The men - Abdirashid Ali Omar, Mohamoud Ali Hassan, Troy Matthew Kastigar, Abdikadir Ali Abdi, Jamal Aweys and Abdisalan Hussein Ali - are among more than 20 young men whom investigators believe left Minnesota in recent years to join al-Shabab to fight against the U.N.-backed government in Somalia.
Omar, 46, faces six terror-related counts, most of them for alleged support of terrorism. Prosecutors say he encouraged men in Minnesota to fight, helped some men get airline tickets and helped pay for weapons. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S.
Omar has said he is innocent.
Villarrell said a little more than half of Omar's contacts during the period were with Abdi, a man portrayed by an earlier witness in the case as a leader of the late 2008 cluster of travelers.
Villarrell also testified that contact between Omar and the six men spiked on Oct. 30, 2008, the day after a Minneapolis man - Shirwa Ahmed - carried out a suicide bombing in Somalia. Thirty-seven contacts were recorded on that day, she testified.
The trial is in its third week.
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