- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota man convicted of trying to the Islamic State group has written a letter claiming he’s not a terrorist.

Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, addressed the letter to U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, who will sentence him later this month. In it, he calls the Islamic State group “cowards” and says he’s a victim of the group’s “intense mental warfare,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/2ehnQSU )

During his trial, Musse said in court that he wanted to join the Islamic State. He was the first among the defendants to plead guilty.

“I felt as if Syria was my home, and it was my duty to protect its people after watching all the propaganda videos online,” Musse wrote in his letter. “After my experience in Africa, being treated like an American, and in America, being treated like an African, I was never accepted to be a part of something. So I chased the dream that was presented to me.”

He pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a charge that could carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Musse’s attorney is asking for a six year sentence.

Three of the other men who were convicted were charged with conspiracy to murder outside the United States. They face possible life sentences.

One of the three men convicted, Abdirahman Daud, also filed a motion Wednesday asking Davis to withdraw a call for harsher penalties that accompany terrorism convictions. His attorney Bruce Nestor said the severe penalties “substantially over-represents” the gravity of Daud’s criminal history.

Musse and Daud had no prior previous criminal histories. However each has been automatically given the highest federal criminal history category in their presentencing reports.

Davis will sentence all nine men in a hearing starting on Nov. 14.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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