MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the second time in two weeks, a young Minnesotan has pleaded guilty to trying to join ISIS.
Zacharia Abdurahman, 20, is one of seven young friends who was set to go to trial on terror charges.
And in a courtroom surprise, he outed the up-until-now secret confidential informant in the case after he was asked who his co-conspirators are.
The confidential informant’s name is Abdirahman Bashir. He was a close friend of all the young men and part of the plot to go to Syria.
That is until last January when he began secretly recording his friends’ conversations for the FBI.
It was the secret recordings made by Abdirahman Bashir that provided some of the most damning evidence against the seven men.
So far Abdirahman Bashir has been paid more than $40,000 by FBI, a fact that’s angered many in the Somali community.
In one of the recordings, Zacharia Abdurahman can be heard saying he would never be deradicalized and predicted he would be going to prison.
In court Thursday, Zacharia Abdurahman admitted he tried to get on a plane with the eventual destination of Syria in May 2014.
He said he and others in the group were in contact with ISIS fighters who were helping them with their travel plans and that the group’s goal was to join the fight.
And he admitted he lied to FBI agents when he told them his final destination was Greece. Zacharia Abdurahman said he was first attracted to ISIS because he believed the group was helping the oppressed people of Syria.
But he admitted even after he learned of the beheadings and other atrocities, he still wanted to go.
The seven young defendants have argued that they were entrapped by their friend-turned informant. As of now, five are still set to stand trial in February, unless they change their pleas. (In March, Abdullahi Yusuf pleaded guilty to conspiracy.)
But on Thursday, Zacharia Abdurahman told the judge, “I was not entrapped.”
By pleading guilty, Zacharia Abdurahman now faces up to 15 years in prison. He could have faced as many as 30 years.
Abdirahman Bashir’s name was scheduled to be made public in January.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is not commenting on whether Abdirahman Bashir will face charges. But in similar cases, informants — even if they do everything the FBI wants them to — have been charged, though they do tend to get greatly reduced prison sentences.