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Man convicted for pledging to kill for ISIS asks for reduced sentence

Members from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service present Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a flag from Bartilah, a town recaptured just outside of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Released)
January 06, 2020

One of the Twin Cities men convicted in the 2016 landmark terror trial is asking a federal judge to drop or reduce his sentence, arguing his attorney didn’t allow him to fulfill his wish to plead guilty, resulting in a harsher punishment.

Guled Ali Omar, 25, is imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kansas, since a jury found him guilty of pledging to kill in the name of ISIS. Omar was one of nine Somali men charged in the nation’s largest probe of terror recruitment in history, and one of three to plead not guilty. His 35-year sentence is longer than any of the other men convicted.

Omar now says his lawyer, Glenn Bruder, failed to strike a plea deal with prosecutors or to inform him that he could plead guilty without an agreement, leading to a conviction on all charges and longer sentence.

If he would have pleaded guilty earlier in the case, Omar’s attorneys argue, federal sentencing guidelines would have capped his sentence at 30 years. “Omar should be given the opportunity to get back what he lost due to trial counsel’s ineffective assistance: the opportunity to plead guilty and be sentenced pursuant” to lower guidelines, states the motion to vacate.

Federal prosecutors declined comment. Bruder said it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

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This isn’t Omar’s first time asking a judge to oveturn his sentence. In 2018, he and two others failed to convince three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Judge Michael Davis gave the jury improper instruction in the trial. He also tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case, but a his counsel missed the filing deadline, according to his most recent appeal.

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© 2019 the Star Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.