(Reuters) - Two Somali-American men in Minnesota were sentenced on Tuesday for conspiring to support the Islamic State militant group, according to local media.
Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Davis sentenced Hamza Ahmed, 21, to 15 years in prison, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.
In November 2014, Ahmed was pulled off a plane scheduled to travel from New York to Turkey, which people who have fought for Islamic State have used as a gateway to Syria.
The militant group holds territory in Iraq and Syria and has sympathizers and recruits around the world who have carried out shootings and bombings of civilians.
Ahmed was indicted in February 2015 on charges of conspiring to support Islamic State and lying to federal agents investigating recruitment by militant groups, according to prosecutors.
He pleaded guilty in April, according to the Star Tribune.
“I want you to understand I am not completely changed,” the newspaper quoted Ahmed as saying in court on Tuesday. “I’m in the process, but nobody changes overnight. I’m trying every day.”
Hanad Mustafe Musse, 21, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, on Tuesday following Ahmed’s sentencing, the local ABC affiliate, KSTP, reported.
Prosecutors accused Musse of trying to leave the United States twice to join the militant group, first in November 2014 in New York and again in April 2015 when he was arrested in Minnesota.
He pleaded guilty to the charges of attempting to support the Islamic State in September 2015.
Ahmed and Musse are part of a larger group of nine Somali-American men who are being sentenced in Minnesota this week for conspiring to support the Islamic State.
On Monday, three men were handed sentences ranging from time served to 10 years in prison.
The Minneapolis area is home to a large population of Somali expatriates. U.S. authorities have said dozens of young Somali-Americans have left the area since 2007 to join al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia.
In 2014, FBI officials said they had begun tracking a trickle of Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area to Syria in general and to Islamic State-held areas in particular.
Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and David Gregorio