Minneapolis frame-up trial attempts to criminalize Somali resistance
Minneapolis, MN – Another attempt by the Justice Department to imprison Somalis who care about the future of their country was in full swing here, Oct. 5, as the trial of Mahamud Said Omar concluded for the week. The trial, which is taking place at the downtown Federal Court building and began Oct. 1, could continue until the end of the month. The government claims that Omar helped Somalis travel to Somalia to help resist the invasion by neighboring Ethiopia.
Omar and his attorneys point out that he is not guilty of the absurd charges against him.
In Oct. 5’s proceedings, Omar’s attorney, Andrew Birrell, raised serious doubt about the credibility of a key prosecution witness, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse.
Birrell’s cross examination revealed that Isse, who was facing a life sentence for ‘terrorism’ charges, had made a plea agreement which includes a promise to provide the prosecution with “substantial assistance.” This means that that the sentence that Isse ultimately gets is based on how well he does in testifying against others in the Somali community.
During questioning, Isse told the court about how patriotism and the desire to fight the Ethiopian invasion motivated him to travel to Somalia in 2007 and join the resistance. He returned to the U.S. and was arrested by the FBI in Seattle in 2009. While in jail he began cooperating with the FBI. On the stand he admitted that, while in jail, he made phone calls to others in the Somali community that were recorded by the FBI.
In 2006, Ethiopia, acting in concert with the Bush administration, invaded Somalia. Massive demonstrations of Somalis took place here in Minnesota. In Somalia, a large scale resistance movement developed, which gave rise to the group called al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, which translates as “the youth”, was then labeled as a ‘terrorist’ group by the U.S. government.
In recent years, Washington has taken to labeling insurgencies that oppose the domination of the U.S or its western allies as ‘terrorists.’ The effect of this policy is that nearly every organization that is waging a militant struggle for national liberation is stuck with the tag of ‘terrorist.’
Starting in 2008, a number of young Somali men, many who grew up in the Twin Cities, traveled to Somalia to fight back against the Ethiopian invasion. The U.S. government views this as ‘terrorism’ and has launched a witch hunt against the Somali community. Many have been jailed or are being hunted by the FBI.
Over the last month, there have been many reports that a new secret grand jury has been convened to investigate supporters of the Somali resistance, creating a climate of fear within the community.
On Oct. 9, Mahamud Said Omar’s trial will resume. Two of the government witnesses scheduled to testify took part in the Sept. 24, 2010 raids on anti-war and international solidarity activists.
Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, states, “A real injustice is taking place at this trial. Mahamud Omar has done nothing wrong. The prosecution is telling lies about him and they have a bigger agenda. They are trying to criminalize an entire community. The charges should be dropped now.”