Minnesota Man Accused of Conspiring to Help Islamic State

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan was charged Wednesday by criminal complaint with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. 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. Authorities say Warsame encouraged his friends to travel, provided money for one of their passports, and tried to put them in touch with ISIS contacts.

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. According to an FBI special agent’s affidavit, one man who was planning to leave for Syria appointed Warsame to replace him as “emir,” or leader, of the group. “As the new emir, Warsame immediately encouraged those with passports and money to travel to Syria by the end of the upcoming summer,” the affidavit said.

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. Prosecutors say his next plan was to join ISIS by traveling to Somalia with his family, break free from them, and head for Syria — or wait until he believed ISIS would expand to Somalia. 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. 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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