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Jury finds Moorhead man guilty of kidnapping woman in attempted robbery

According to court documents, Sharmake Abdullahi approached a woman’s car, knocked on her window and pointed a gun at her when she was on University Drive in Fargo.

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Sharmake Abdullahi.
Submitted photo
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FARGO — A Moorhead man has been found guilty of kidnapping a woman during the day near downtown Fargo and forcing her to drive to a Moorhead bank in an attempt to get money from an ATM.

A jury returned the guilty verdict on Friday, Dec. 9, on the federal charge of kidnapping against Sharmake Mohamed Abdullahi. He also was found guilty of attempted witness tampering.

Abdullahi, 31, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Court documents said Abdullahi approached a woman’s car, knocked on her window and pointed a gun at her before noon on Oct. 19, 2021, when she was on University Drive in Fargo. He demanded that she unlock the door, and once inside, he told her to drive to Gate City Bank in Moorhead and withdraw $500 from an ATM so he could pay rent, a criminal complaint said.

The woman was unable to get money from the machine, according to the complaint. He told her to drive away, court documents alleged.

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"The victim stated that she pulled over and told the suspect, 'You can kill me here.' The suspect then stated he did not want to shoot her and got out of the vehicle," the complaint said.

Abdullahi took the woman’s iPhone and threatened to kill her if she called police, the complaint alleged. After he left, she reported the crime to the Moorhead Police Department, court documents said.

Abdullahi was arrested about a month later.

The defense argued during the four-day trial that the “seizure of the victim was merely incidental to an attempted robbery,” and that Abdullahi shouldn’t be convicted of kidnapping, according to a trial brief.

The time of the “seizure” was short — Abdullahi was with the victim for only a few minutes, the defense said. The incident also occurred during the lesser crime of attempted robbery, was necessary for attempted robbery and was not “independently dangerous” from the lesser offense, the defense argued.

The defense said Abdullahi’s car broke down before he got in the car with the woman. At one point, he offered the woman a muffin, the brief said.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the charge related to witness tampering. The correct charge is attempted witness tampering.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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