(Reuters) – A Somali-American man in Minnesota was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years in prison for conspiring to aid the Islamic State militant group, local media reported.
The man, Mohamed Farah, 22, is one of three scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday for attempting to assist Islamic State in 2014 and early 2015. Farah was convicted in June of conspiring to commit murder in Syria on behalf of Islamic State and for lying to a grand jury and FBI agents.
Farah is among nine Somali-Americans from Minnesota who are being sentenced this week on charges of trying to aid Islamic State, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria and has sympathizers and recruits around the world who have carried out shootings and bombings of civilians.
Farah was handed the 30-year sentence by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Farah received the harshest sentence so far. Six others in the group have been given sentences ranging from time served to 15 years in prison.
Farah made persistent efforts to join Islamic State from early 2014 through April 2015, prosecutors charged.
Farah denied that he was a terrorist when asked by the judge in court on Wednesday, ABC affiliate KSTP reported.
“What I say to you is that the actions I’ve done are what terrorists would do but that I feel like I’m not, your honor,” Farah was quoted as saying by KSTP.
The Minneapolis area is home to a large population of Somali expatriates. U.S. authorities have said dozens of young Somali-Americans have left the area since 2007 to join al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia.
In 2014, FBI officials said they had begun tracking a trickle of Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area to Syria in general and to Islamic State-held areas in particular.
(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool)