A Minnesota man on trial for plotting to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group is testifying in his own defense.

Twenty-one-year-old Guled Ali Omar took the witness stand Thursday after prosecutors finished presenting their case against Omar and two other men. Each man faces multiple counts. The most serious is conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States, punishable by life in prison.

Prosecutors have said the men were part of a larger group of friends in Minnesota's Somali community who recruited and inspired each other to go to Syria.

Omar testified that some of his friends met to study the Quran together. He said that at one point, group members began talking about Syria, but that in early 2014 no one had legitimate plans to travel.