MINNEAPOLIS - After receiving 30 years in prison, a federal prosecutor says Mohamed Farah flashed an ISIL sign to supporters in the gallery while being hauled out by federal marshals.
The index finger raised in the air is prevalent in ISIL recruitment videos, and is a symbol of their cause, according to multiple published reports.
Farah is one of the final three defendants in the ISIL case to be sentenced.
Judge Michael Davis called everyone back into the courtroom so the assistant U.S. attorney could put the incident onto the court record, in case Farah decides to appeal his sentence. Farah's attorney, who did not witness the incident, speculated that Farah might have just been waiving at someone.
Then, the next defendant to be sentenced, Abdirahman Daud, did the same thing as he was escorted out following his own 30-year sentence.
Farah and Daud, along with Guled Omar, were the three defendants who took their case to trial and were ultimately convicted by a jury. The day's harshest sentence in the vast and high-profile Minneapolis ISIL case went to Wednesday's final defendant, Omar. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison, after prosecutors urged the judge, he had blood on his hands.
During Farah's sentencing hearing, he asked Judge Davis for leniency, requesting he be allowed to return to his Minneapolis Somali community and prevent others from falling for ISIL propaganda. But Judge Davis grew angry when Farah refused to admit he is a terrorist.
“Your honor, it's a very good question. What I say to you is the actions I’ve done are what terrorists would do, but that I feel like that I'm not, your honor," Farah insisted. "I'm not a terrorist, your honor. But I understand the mistakes I've done and the crimes I've committed.”
Judge Davis wasn't having any of it. "Lets not play games," he retorted. "I understand all of this, and every answer you answer incorrect is not going to help you. I know what the answers are when I ask the questions. You’re not fooling me. You understand you and your cell lied, lied, lied, lied, deceived and deceived and deceived to go to the Islamic State. Is that accurate?"
"There’s no denying there is a jihadi cell," Davis continued. "They want to publicize 'these are just young kids that are misguided', but the court is thankful there was a trial so all the evidence could come out. It's on the record. There’s no denying it. Your own voices are on those tapes. Your voice is here admitting to what you are involved. You will be a victim. Victim of the system. That no one told your family about, but in fact the FBI tried to stop. Talked to you. Scared you. But it continued."
In another interesting twist, Mohamed Farah told Judge Davis and the courtroom that his parents knew about his activities in pursuit of helping and joining ISIL. Yesterday, Farah's younger brother insisted that their parents did not know what they were up to.
Defendant Abirahman Daud also received 30 years in prison for his role in supporting and attempting to join ISIL. During the sentencing hearing an emotional Daud begged his fellow young Muslims not to fall prey to jihadist ideology, but federal prosecutor said the only reason Daud is showing any type of contrition is to get himself a shorter sentence.
In the last sentencing of the day, Davis handed down the 35-year sentence to Omar, after the prosecutor argued he was the most influential and deceitful of the nine co-defendants. That prosecutor asked for a 40-year sentence.
Omar was visibly emotional during the testimony, sobbing through his plea to the judge for leniency.