MINNEAPOLIS – A third man pleaded guilty Wednesday to terror-related charges stemming from a federal investigation into Americans traveling to Somalia to fight with Islamic militants.
Kamal Hassan acknowledged lying to FBI agents questioning him in February about the case and admitted spending time at a training camp run in Somalia by al-Shabab, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida.
Hassan told federal agents that he traveled to Yemen after spending time in the camp, but admitted Wednesday to a federal judge in Minneapolis that he had lied. He told U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum he fought with al-Shabab in Somalia.
Hassan also admitted concealing the identities of people he associated with in Minnesota and Somalia.
Few other details about Hassan's case emerged in court, and his age and hometown weren't immediately available.
As many as 20 young men have traveled to Somalia to join in fighting there. Family members in Minnesota, where the nation's largest population of Somali immigrants is concentrated in Minneapolis, say at least three have died.
Two others also have pleaded guilty to terror-related charges. Salah Osman Ahmed, 26, of New Brighton, pleaded guilty in July to providing material support to terrorists. Ahmed acknowledged that he worked with al-Shabab in Somalia. Ahmed said he did menial labor at a training camp but acknowledged he also was trained to use guns.
Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, 25, of Seattle, pleaded guilty in April to one count of providing material support to terrorists. Isse also spent time in an al-Shabab camp in the lawless Horn of Africa country.
Hassan, who wore a dark suit in court on Wednesday, was allowed to meet briefly in private with three family members before the hearing started. Afterward, he was taken into custody by U.S. marshals.
He faces up to eight years in prison in a plea agreement worked out with the U.S. attorney's office. A sentencing date wasn't immediately set.
Court documents unsealed later Wednesday showed that Hassan had pleaded guilty in February to two other charges: providing material support for terrorism and providing material support for a foreign terrorist organization. Court documents said Hassan faces up to 15 years in prison on each of those charges.
Hassan's attorney, federal public defender Manny Atwal, declined to comment as she left the courtroom.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million. Islamic insurgents with alleged ties to al-Qaida recently intensified their efforts to capture the capital city, Mogadishu.