COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal judge on Friday delayed by a few days the sentencing of an Ohio man who plotted to kill military members in the U.S. following a delay in the case when a previous judge withdrew.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, who was born in Somalia and came to the U.S. as a child, was arrested in 2015 and pleaded guilty to plotting those attacks after becoming radicalized in Syria. The attacks were never carried out.
Judge Michael Watson said without explanation he was delaying sentencing until Monday morning. Mohamud's attorney, Sam Shamansky, said it was a complicated case that needed a few more days.
The government said Mohamud became a citizen to obtain a U.S. passport. He bought a ticket to Greece with a stop in Turkey, where he disembarked before going to Syria, prosecutors said in court documents. They said he never intended to go to Greece.
Prosecutors, who are seeking a 23-year sentence, said Mohamud wanted to travel to Texas and capture three or four soldiers and execute them. They said Mohamud, now 26, was trained in Syria and tried to cover up dangerous terrorist activity.
Shamansky, in asking for leniency, has said Mohamud had realized "the immoral and illegal nature of terrorist ideology" and abandoned any plans to engage in terrorism.
Shamansky is also asking the judge to consider the light sentence a fellow federal judge in Minnesota handed down in 2016 to a Minnesota man.
In that case, Abdullahi Yusuf, who was 20 at the time of sentencing, was convicted of conspiring to join the Islamic State in Syria. Yusuf, who cooperated with prosecutors and testified against others, was sentenced to time served in jail of 21 months, plus two decades of supervised release.
Mohamud was originally scheduled to be sentenced in August. Judge James Graham started that hearing, but in a surprise move, he announced he was delaying it to gather more information, including Mohamud's current state of mind.
Graham also said he wanted information about possible treatment programs for Mohamud during and after prison.
Graham ordered a psychological evaluation of Mohamud and set a new sentencing date. But in December, Graham abruptly withdrew from the case without explanation.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.