(Reuters) - Opening statements in a federal trial in Minnesota for three Somali-American men accused of trying to assist Islamic State and fight with the militant group in Syria are expected to begin on Wednesday.
Minnesota residents Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar are charged with conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State and commit murder outside the United States, according to a brief filed by prosecutors.
The men are part of a group of 10 people that faced similar federal charges. Six have already pleaded guilty to providing material support to Islamic State, and another is believed to be in Syria, said Ben Petok, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.
Opening statements follow jury selection, which began on Monday and wrapped up late on Tuesday.
The government expects to call 26 witnesses and introduce about 340 exhibits during the trial in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the brief said.
The government’s evidence will include tape-recorded conversations among the defendants in which they discuss their criminal plans, murders committed by the Islamic State group and videos watched by the defendants depicting the use of explosives and firearms, the brief said.
Along with the conspiracy counts, Farah and Daud are charged with perjury, and Farah with making a false statement to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.
Omar is also facing a charge of attempted financial aid fraud for trying to use $5,000 in federal student aid to fund travel to Syria, according to prosecutors.
Each of the three defendants faces up to life in prison, Petok said. They are currently in federal custody.
From March 2014 to April 2015, a group of individuals, including the defendants, met multiple times at various locations and agreed to travel to Syria to join and fight for Islamic State, prosecutors said.
There were three major efforts by the conspiracy to send members to Syria to join Islamic State in May and November 2014 and in April 2015.
According to prosecutors, the three defendants helped each other with plans to travel to Syria, such as getting passports and money, advising each other on how to contact the Islamic State and agreeing on ways to keep their plans secret from law enforcement.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales, editing by G Crosse