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Man accused in plot to bomb Somali apartments blames others

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A man accused of conspiring to bomb a Kansas apartment complex housing Somali refugees argued Wednesday that he was unaware his co-defendants intended to carry out the attack.

Gavin Wright made the argument in a redacted, 93-page court motion filed by his attorney that offers the first details at his defense strategy. Wright and two other men are charged with conspiring to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex in Garden City, a meatpacking town about 200 miles (322 kilometers) west of Wichita.

Prosecutors said Wright and co-defendants Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen planned to carry out the attack a day after the November 2016 election. The three men, who were indicted in October, have pleaded not guilty.

The motion portrays Wright as a lonely man desperate to find friends after moving to Liberal, a town in rural western Kansas. It contends Wright believed the talk about surveillance of the Somali Muslim refugee community was only hyperbole.

His attorney, Kari Schmidt, filed the motion while asking a judge to release Wright from jail pending trial. Schmidt argued Wright wasn’t dangerous or a flight risk, and that the government’s evidence against him was weak.

The judge hasn’t ruled on the request. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Jim Cross, said in an email that he anticipates the government will oppose Wright’s release. Cross declined later to comment on Wright’s allegations in the motion.

According to the motion, Wright struck up a friendship with Allen, who shared many of his political beliefs and his interest in survival prepping and training. Allen introduced Wright to a group associated with the Kansas Security Force citizen militia that included Stein and a confidential informant, according to the court filing.

Some members regularly gathered for Sunday morning coffee to vent their frustrations about then-President Barack Obama, what would happen if Hillary Clinton was elected president — and the Somali refugees living in southwest Kansas.

The conversations included hypotheticals about how to make explosives and destroy bridges, but it was the informant who turned the discussions to targeting Somalis living in Garden City, Schmidt wrote.

The informant told the group money was being wired to Islamic extremists, and that the Somalis had connections to the Mexican Mafia and were using drug proceeds to help finance jihad in the U.S., according to the court motion.

Wright accepted the claims as “banter,” but the informant was actively radicalizing Stein and Allen, Schmidt argued. Wright agreed they should be prepared if members of the Muslim community in Garden City ever became a threat, but it was the informant who suggested taking pre-emptive action, Schmidt wrote.

“While his new friends feared President Obama, the Muslim Brotherhood, a United Nations invasion of the United States, and martial law, Mr. Wright had a much more fundamental and human fear: isolation and loneliness,” Schmidt wrote.

“So when the Sunday group talk turned to undesirable topics, Mr. Wright went along with the talk to get along,” the attorney added. “But Mr. Wright describes such talk as ‘banter’ that he never took seriously.”

She said Wright was concerned about political leadership in the U.S., and had strong feelings about immigration and refugee policies, but didn’t share the fears of his new social group.

Public Defender Melody Brannon, who represents Allen, said in an email that she had “nothing” in response to the Wright’s allegations, adding the motion is unrelated to her client’s status. Jim Pratt, who represents Stein, declined comment.

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Minnesota

Rep. Ellison, Rep. Emmer, and Colleagues Introduce Resolution Condemning Terror Attack in Mogadishu

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WASHINGTON — On the one-month anniversary of the October 14th terror attack on Mogadishu, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), along with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced House Resolution 620, which condemns the attack, expresses sympathy for its victims and their families, and reaffirms U.S. support for Somalia.

The October 14th terror attack killed more than 350 people, including three American citizens, and injured another 200—making it the single deadliest in Somalia’s history.

“It’s been a month since the terrible and cowardly attack on Mogadishu, and my heart still breaks for the people of Somalia and their families and friends here in the United States,” Ellison said. “The people of Somalia have shown incredible resilience— coming together not only as part of an inspiring effort to recover from this attack, but also to rebuild their nation in the spirit of peace and prosperity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to express solidarity with the people of Somalia by strongly condemning the senseless violence, extending our condolences to all those affected by the attack, and reaffirming continued U.S. support for Somalia.”

“Just over a month ago, Mogadishu experienced a horrific and tragic terrorist attack,” said Emmer. “This attack hit close to home with three of our fellow Americans – including one Minnesotan – among the more than 350 men, women and children who lost their lives far too soon. I stand with my colleagues and the Somali community to condemn last month’s attack. I am proud to work with my colleagues to offer condolences and lend support as Somalia works to rebuild itself and its communities in the wake of this recent tragedy. Today, and every day, we stand against terror and join together to rid this world of evil.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

“Strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017, and expressing condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.

Whereas on October 14, 2017, a truck bomb filled with military grade and homemade explosives detonated at a busy intersection in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, and took the lives of more than 350 people and injured more than 200 additional people;

Whereas at least three Americans, Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, were killed in the attack;

Whereas the Somali Government believes that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack, although no official claims of responsibility have yet been made;

Whereas Al-Shabaab has previously avoided claiming responsibility for Al Shabaab operations when it believes the operation may significantly damage its public image among Somalis;

Whereas the Department of State condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds in Mogadishu on October 14’’;

Whereas the Department of State stated that ‘‘the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity’’;

Whereas according to the Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism for 2016, Al-Shabaab is the most potent threat to regional stability in East Africa;

Whereas the United States continues to support counterterrorism efforts in coordination with the Government of Somalia, international partners, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mainly through capacity building programs, advise and assist missions, and intelligence support;

Whereas Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack;

Whereas the vibrant, bustling district of Mogadishu where the attack occurred is characteristic of the city’s revitalization, and the solidarity and efforts by the city’s residents to rebuild already are a testament to their resilience; and

Whereas Somalia has been a strong partner to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017;

(2) expresses its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies for the victims of the attack and their families;

(3) honors the memories of Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, who were murdered in the horrific terrorist attack;

(4) recognizes the significant efforts to combat terrorism by the Government of Somalia, the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and United States forces in Somalia;

(5) reaffirms United States support for the Government of Somalia’s efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity and combat terrorism in Somalia; and

(6) renews the solidarity of the people and Government of the United States with the people and Government of Somalia.”

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Canada

Somali youth project update (Project TooSoo)

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CBC —  For the past year, a group of young Somalis in Toronto has been learning how to re-claim the stories told about their community.

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Sports

Looking back on my Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace | Mo Farah

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I recently had the honour of being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When I came to the UK from Somalia aged 8, not speaking any English, who would have thought that my running would eventually lead me here? This was another very special gold medal for me and I am so honoured to have received it. Here’s a little glimpse of how the day went for me.

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