MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Two people from Minnesota face charges accusing them of working to aid the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the United States Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, 18-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf and 20-year-old Abdi Nur have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely the ISIL. Nur faces an additional charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
One of the two, Yusuf, has been arrested. According to the complaint, Yusuf tried to go to Istanbul, Turkey but was stopped by FBI agents at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on May 28.
His eventual destination was Turkey. Agents became suspicious when he could not tell them who he was going to visit in Turkey and what he was going to do there.
At the airport Yusuf denied being a terrorist telling agents, “I never committed no terrorist crimes that you’re accusing me of.”
Yusuf’s former attorney says his client was naive and that six months ago ISIL did not have the brutal reputation it does now.
“Many young Muslims were attracted to the renewal of the Muslim ideal, the city on the hill,” Peter Erlinder said.
In the six months since he was kept from leaving, Yusuf has been working at Best Buy and attending classes at Inver Hills Community College.
Nur is believed to be in Syria; he departed from Minneapolis for Istanbul on May 29 and didn’t return in June as scheduled. Court documents say that family members noted Nur had become “much more religious” leading up to his departure to Syria. He began talking of jihad and told family members that they needed to pray more, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Court documents say he’s communicated on Facebook that he has gone “to the brothers.”
“More than 16,000 recruits from over 90 countries traveled to Syria to become foreign terrorist fighters with alarming consequences,” John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said. “This is a global crisis and we will continue our efforts to prevent Americans from joining the fight and to hold accountable those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations. With these two defendants, we have now charged more than 15 individuals with offenses related to the foreign fighter threat in Syria.”
A complaint details how last spring both young men suddenly had roughly $1,500 for airfare.
Community leader and family friend Omar Jamal said federal investigators should be trying to find the source of the money and the recruiters.
“Who [is] doing this to these kids? Where are the big fish?,” Jamal asked.
Yusuf was arrested Tuesday on his way to school. At an appearance in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Tuesday, his attorney said he’s not a risk and should be released.
Yusuf’s mother and father did not say anything as they left the court hearing.
He was ordered held until a Wednesday hearing.
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