7 Minnesota ISIS suspects in court for critical ruling

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A strong Department of Homeland Security presence outside the federal courthouse in Minneapolis as 7 ISIS suspects appear in court. Photo by Bill Keller / Fox 9.

A court date is now set for 7 Minnesota men accused of trying to leave the United States and join the terror group ISIS. They will stand trial, as a group, on Feb. 16, 2016.

A critical hearing Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis lasted several hours, going through a long list of pre-trial motions -- most of them denied. Among those motions were new pleas to let the suspects out of jail.

When one lawyer complained about how long they'll wait in jail, the judge replied he's ready to hold this trial already this fall. In the end, the Feb. 16 trial date is one the lawyers themselves came up with.

READ THIS NEXT - A deeper look at the case against the 7 suspects

Because of that, each hearing has higher security as a large number of family and friends from Minnesota’s Somali community show up for support.

The federal judge had already denied a motion to dismiss on the argument that ISIS is not a terror group but its own nation with territory and an army. The judge also denied motions to try some of the young men separately, and denied pleas to let them out of jail.

Two FBI agents took the stand to answer questions about the one issue the judge did not rule on – that defense attorneys want statements  made to those agents tossed out. One agent talked to several of the suspects at New York’s JFK Airport after they were denied boarding a flight to Turkey. Another talked to them after they got off the bus back in Minneapolis. The argument is these were not legal interrogations, and the judge will rule later this month.