MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis man is charged with making false statements in a terrorism investigation after allegedly lying about his attempt to fly to Turkey — a country considered to be a gateway for linking up with terrorist networks.
Nineteen-year-old Hamza Ahmed was charged Thursday with lying to FBI agents after being removed from a plane leaving New York City’s JFK International Airport for Istanbul on Nov. 9, 2014.
According to the criminal complaint, Ahmed travelled by bus from Minneapolis to New York City with three other men, who were not allowed to board their flights at JFK.
Ahmed boarded his flight, but was pulled from the plane before it left the boarding gate.
The FBI claims Ahmed lied by saying that he only “vaguely” knew one of the men he travelled with from Minneapolis. Investigators found that Ahmed had actually exchanged numerous messages on Twitter with the man — who the FBI knew traveled to Syria earlier in 2014 — over the course of four months.
He is also accused of lying about his final destination. Ahmed claimed he was going to vacation in Madrid, Spain for four days.
But investigators claim that Ahmed would have only been in Madrid for one full day. They also claim he knew no one in that city and he had not booked a hotel room.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Docherty and Andrew Winter are prosecuting this case, which was the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.