Minnesota Man Accused of Conspiring to Help ISIS

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10th Terror Suspect Arrested, Accused Of Helping Others Join ISIS.

A Minnesota man was arrested Wednesday night and accused of conspiring to help The Islamic State in Iran and the Levant (ISIL), the latest in a string of similar cases in the state.Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan was charged Wednesday by criminal complaint with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Warsame aided several previously charged Twin Cities men in their attempts to leave the U.S. to fight for ISIS in Syria, according to a criminal complaint filed earlier Wednesday. The complaint alleges that Warsame began planning with the other men in April 2014 to travel to Syria, and that he helped them by giving them money to pay for a passport and trying to put them in touch with contacts in Syria, MPR News reports.

According to the criminal complaint, Warsame was at one point the leader of a group of young, Somali-American from the Twin Cities who tried to flee the country in April to aid the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. Minnesota is believed to have produced more would-be foreign fighters than any other state, but it also has a Muslim community that’s exceptionally engaged with efforts to counter extremism.

FBI investigators say Warsame encouraged his friends to join ISIS overseas, provided money for one of their passports, and even tried to leave himself in the spring of 2014, but his expedited passport application was denied. He initially told the state department in his application that the passport was for a family trip to Britain, but later said in an interview with the State Department that the family was traveling to Australia. Court documents say some of the information gathered in the investigation that led to Warsame’s arrest came from one of the other nine suspects charged — Abdullahi Yusuf. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, spoke with the Star Tribune earlier this year about curbing terror recruitment efforts in Minnesota, saying it’s worrisome that despite local and national efforts, Somali-Americans are still heading overseas to fight someone they don’t know. He said officials will have to be more resourceful to reach youths who are turning to terrorism, to communicate the message that instead of terrorism, things can be more effectively changed by active citizenship.

Census numbers suggest that there are more than 125,000 Somalis living in the U.S., with nearly 40,000 of those in Minnesota, although some demographers have suggested the actual number in the state is higher. Some of them communicated with Islamic State members overseas, some took steps to get fake passports, and some played paintball to prepare for combat, prosecutors say. After arriving in the 1990s during Somalia’s civil war, they were funneled into the state’s experienced refugee agencies by aid workers and many were supported by welfare benefits more generous than other states. Warfa said his community will redouble efforts to send a message to the youth: “They are better if they stay here at home, get a decent education and embrace American life.” “Islamophobia is a real concern within our community,” he said, noting a recent uptick in anti-Muslim talk. “If someone in the Somali community has done wrong, the legal system will take care of it. To counter the disaffection that can make teens vulnerable to recruiters from ISIL and similar groups, community leaders have worked with the Justice Department to adapt gang intervention programs to do the same with countering the pull of overseas groups.

However, he did say that if the men’s defense attorneys were able to come up with a restrictive-enough plan that satisfied all parties, there was a chance the men could be granted conditional releases.

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