On a cold December morning five years ago, FBI agents knocked on the door of a basement apartment in northeast Minneapolis, and Mohamed Abdullah Warsame answered.
He let the agents in to talk, and later they took him to another location to talk more. He hasn’t been home since.
For five years, Warsame, now 35, has been awaiting trial on charges that he provided material support to Al-Qaida. A Canadian citizen of Somali descent, he has done most of the waiting alone in a jail cell, under special restrictions that limit his contact with the outside world.
Warsame’s case may be cited as the debate rages about what to do with detainees if Guantanamo closes, said Robert Chesney, a Wake Forest University professor who compiled the data on 108 defendants. Warsame’s is the longest pretrial detention of the post-9/11 terrorism prosecutions that Chesney has found.
Warsame, who was a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College at the time of his arrest, is charged with lying to federal agents about traveling to Afghanistan in 2000 and later sending $2,000 to an associate he met at a training camp there. Authorities contend Warsame once dined next to Osama bin Laden and fought on the front lines with the Taliban.
The U.S. attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.
A defense attorney said early in the case that Warsame was searching for a Muslim utopia and went to training camps because he was out of money and needed shelter. The attorney said someone had lent Warsame money to get back to North America and the money he sent was repayment.