On Wednesday, Mohammed Farah, Abdirahman Daud, and Guled Omar, three Somali Americans, began their trial in a Minneapolis federal courtroom for allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014.
The trio is actually a part of a group of almost a dozen young Muslim men who were recruited from Minneapolis, which has the largest Somali population in the United States, to join ISIS.
While six of the men plead guilty, 22-year-old Daud, 21-year-old Omar, and 22-year-old Farah have been charged “with providing material support to ISIS, essentially offering themselves as fighters, and planning to commit murder outside the United States on behalf of the group,” according to NPR.
Farah, Omar, and Daud — along with their six peers — reportedly became radicalized after watching a number of YouTube videos on ISIS.
Not long after, ISIS would purportedly “seduce” the group over social media.
From March 2014, prosecutors allege the group met repeatedly to determine how they could raise funds and get passports to travel to Syria.
By April, after driving to San Diego, Calif., Daud and Farad would be arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Prosecutors identified one man, Abdi Nur, who made it to Syria and tried to recruit young Minnesotans to join him. They also allege that the defendants were inspired by another Minnesotan, Hanad Mohallim, who traveled to Syria and is believed to have been killed in an airstrike.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Somali Americans have been recruited for terrorism: In 2010, 14 Somali Minnesotans attempted to join Al Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization based in Somalia and responsible for Kenya’s grisly Garissa University attack last year as well as the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in 2013.
At the time, this group represented a disturbing trend of Americans becoming terrorists in order “to support violent jihad in Somalia,” according to a statement from the U.S. government.
If the men are found guilty in this current case, they could face life in prison.
So far, 80 Americans have already been arrested for attempting to join ISIS and 200 Americans have succeeded to flying to Syria.
Investigators hope this current case will give insight into ISIS’ recruiting efforts, particularly its successful efforts at targeting young adults.