MINNEAPOLIS, June 3 (Reuters) - Three Minnesota men were convicted on Friday of conspiring to commit murder in Syria on behalf of the Islamic State militant group, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Jurors convicted Guled Omar, 21, Abdirahman Daud and Mohamed Farah, both 22, on multiple counts in Minnesota federal court. All three could face life in prison.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger told a news conference after the verdict the evidence showed the men, part of a larger group of Somali-American men charged in the case, were not "wayward kids who just got caught up in a fantasy."
"They wanted to fight for a brutal terrorist organization, kill innocent people, and destroy their own families in the process," Luger said.
The men accused of making multiple efforts to leave the United States for Syria were convicted on all but one of the charges against them including conspiring and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State.
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History of the Islamic State
Three Minnesota men convicted of conspiring to join Islamic State
RNPS: YEAREND REVIEW 2014 - HEADLINE MAKERS Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. 2014 saw the rise of the Sunni militant group Islamic State, which has seized swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
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(REUTERS/Social media via Reuters TV)
Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 18, 2014. A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.
This handout image provided by the Iraqi Prime Minister office shows Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki holding photographs of a man identified by the Iraqi government as al-Qaida leader in Iraq Abu Omar al-Baghdadi at a news conference on April 19, 2010 in Baghdad, Iraq. Nouri announced the deaths of Abu Ayyub al-Masri along with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. US Military oficials confirmed U.S. and Iraqi forces killed the two al-Qaida figures in a nighttime rocket attack on a safe house near Tikrit.
(Photo by Iraqi Prime Minister office via Getty Images)
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(Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
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A shrine for Iraqi Christians who were killed in Al-Qaeda siege is erected at the Sayidat al-Nejat (Our Lady of Salvation) Church in Baghdad on December 23, 2010 as Christmas for Iraq's Christian community will this year be a time of fear and cancelled celebrations instead of rejoicing following renewed threats by Al-Qaeda and the church massacre.
(ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)
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A fighter of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fires an anti-aircraft weapon from Tel Tawil village in the direction of Islamic State fighters positioned in the countryside of the town of Tel Tamr February 25, 2015. Kurdish militia pressed an offensive against Islamic State in northeast Syria on Wednesday, cutting one of its supply lines from Iraq, as fears mounted for dozens of Christians abducted by the hardline group. The Assyrian Christians were taken from villages near the town of Tel Tamr, some 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest of the city of Hasaka. There has been no word on their fate. There have been conflicting reports on where the Christians had been taken.
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(THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)
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(MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries drive a T-72 tank as they advance near the town of Tal Abtah, south of Tal Afar, on November 30, 2016 during a broad offensive by Iraq forces to retake the city Mosul from jihadists of the Islamic State group.
(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., Joint Staff Director of Operations Director of Operations, shows before and after photos as he speaks on the airstrikes in Syria during a briefing at the Pentagon September 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mayville briefed the press about US and Arab nation joint airstrikes against Islamic State(IS) group targets in Syria and unilateral airstrikes against an al-Qaeda group in Syria.
(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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(REUTERS/Social media via Reuters TV)
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(HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi Policeman watches a drone hover near the village of Arbid, on the southern Mosul front, on November 12, 2016 during the ongoing military operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) group. Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake the country's second city from the Islamic State group on October 17, and the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) special forces have pushed the jihadists back from some Mosul neighbourhoods.
(ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A MI 28 provides aerial support as Shiite fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), enter the village of al-Tofaha, southeast of the city of Tal Afar, on November 25, 2016, during an ongoing operation against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. The Popular Mobilisation have focused their operations on Tal Afar, a large town still held by IS west of Mosul and this week announced they had cut the main road between it and Syria.
(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Shiite fighters stands near a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba, near the town of al-Alam, March 7, 2015. Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militia fighters struggled to advance on Saturday into the two towns of al-Alam and al-Dour near Tikrit, their progress slowed by fierce defence from Islamic State militants.
F16 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrive at an air base in Jordan February 8, 2015. A squadron of F16 jet fighters from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Jordan on Sunday a day after the Gulf state announced it was being sent to bolster the coalition's military effort against the Islamic State. It will conduct joint air strikes with Jordanian colleagues against the Islamic militants, Jordanian officials said on Saturday.
(REUTERS/Petra News Agency)
Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr. speaks about the Syrian bombing campaign September 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mayville talked about the U.S. and Arab air strikes in Syria against the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A girl holds up a poster with pictures of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya, as they gather in a gesture to show their solidarity, in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman February 17, 2015.
(REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed)
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A Kurdish fighter keeps guard while overlooking positions of Islamic State militants near Mosul in northern Iraq August 19, 2014. Sunni Muslim fighters led by the Islamic State swept through much of northern and western Iraq in June, capturing the Sunni cities of Tikrit and Mosul as well as the Mosul dam, which controls water and power supplies to millions of people down the Tigris river valley.
AL-QARYATAYN, SYRIA. APRIL 7, 2016. The Mar Elian Catholic monastery burnt by Islamic State (IS) militants.
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Shi'ite fighters look at smoke rising from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016.
Indonesian soldiers from the 2nd Airborne Division patrol after parachuting from a transport aircraft near Masani village, Poso, Central Sulawesi March 31, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Indonesia has launched military exercises in the eastern island of Sulawesi, a haven for radical Islamists, as part of broader efforts to crack down on militants with suspected links to the Islamic State group, officials said on Tuesday. The drills come amid heightened government concerns over a rising number of Indonesians pledging loyalty to Islamic State (IS) and trying to join the group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
An Iraqi soldier holds an Islamist State flag, after pulling it down during a military operation against Islamic State militants in Al-Qasar, southeast of Mosul, Iraq, November 29, 2016.
A man walks in a street with abandoned vehicles and damaged buildings in the northern Syrian town of Kobani January 30, 2015. Sheets meant to hide residents from snipers' sights still hang over streets in the Syrian border town of Kobani, and its shattered buildings and cratered roads suggest those who fled are unlikely to return soon. Kurdish forces said this week they had taken full control of Kobani, a mainly Kurdish town near the Turkish border, after months of bombardment by Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has spread across Syria and Iraq.
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Farah was also found guilty of lying to a grand jury and FBI agents and Omar of attempting to use $5,000 of student financial aid in the plan. Jurors acquitted Daud of a perjury charge.
Prosecutors put on more than two dozen witnesses, secret audio recordings and terror videos in the trial that went to the jury on Wednesday afternoon.
Farah's attorney, Murad Mohammad, said he and his client were disappointed in the verdict. They had argued that Farah's actions did not rise to the level of conspiring to murder anyone or provide material support to Islamic State.
"Farah fell victim to ISIL's slick marketing campaign, dusted with enough misrepresentations of Islam to make it appear to be a legitimate Islamic organization," Mohammad said, using a different acronym for Islamic State.
Lawyers for Daud and Omar did not immediately return requests for comment on the verdicts.
Prosecutors brought similar charges against 10 men - including the three convicted on Friday - whom they said were part of a group of friends and extended family who planned to go overseas to fight for Islamic State. IS has been designated by the United States as a terror group.
Six of the 10 pleaded guilty to providing material support to Islamic State and a seventh man is believed to be in Syria.
The trial has exposed tensions in Minnesota's Somali community, where some believe the men were entrapped by a former group member turned paid FBI informant who testified at trial.
Luger said the jury rejected the idea of entrapment.