A man accused of traveling from the United States to Somalia to fight with Islamic militants plans to plead guilty on Tuesday to one terror-related charge, his attorney said. Attorney Jim Ostgard said Salah Osman Ahmed will tell the court he went to Somalia intending to fight against Ethiopian soldiers _ not to fight alongside terrorists.
Ahmed, 26, will be the second Somali man to plead guilty in connection with a string of young men who traveled from the Minneapolis area to Somalia in waves to possibly fight with terrorist groups. The federal investigation into the men's departures is ongoing.
Ahmed and Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, 25, were among as many as 20 young men who traveled to Somalia to possibly fight. Family members say at least three others have been killed, including Shirwa Ahmed, who the FBI has said was the first known US citizen to carry out a suicide bombing when he died Oct. 29. Isse pleaded guilty in April to one count of providing material support to terrorists. Ostgard said his client will plead guilty to one count of providing material support to terrorists. As part of a plea agreement, one count of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure and two counts of lying to the FBI will be dropped when Ahmed is sentenced.
According to court documents, Ahmed went to Somalia in December 2007. He has been in custody since his arrest in mid-July. Ostgard said Ahmed will give a limited account of what he did in Somalia, including time he spent at a terror training camp that wasn't yet built.
"He'll probably describe a little bit about being instructed to clear brush and trees," Ostgard said.
Ostgard said Ahmed plans to tell US District Judge James Rosenbaum that he met with others in Minnesota and made plans to travel to Somalia to fight against the Ethiopian army that was occupying parts of Somalia. Many Somalis saw that occupation, which began in 2006, as an invasion of their homeland, and they viewed the Ethiopian soldiers as abusive and heavy-handed.
A spokesman for the US attorney declined comment. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million. Islamic insurgents with alleged ties to al-Qaida recently intensified their efforts to capture the capital city, Mogadishu.
Minneapolis has the largest US concentration of Somali immigrants. Census figures estimate about 32,300 Somalis live in Minnesota, but local advocates say the number is much higher.