A 10th Minnesota man has been charged with conspiring to leave the United States and provide material support to ISIS abroad, authorities announced Thursday.
Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan, Minnesota, was arrested without incident Wednesday night, roughly eight months after the last round of arrests were made in what the FBI described as a "broad conspiracy" to travel to Syria by way of Mexico and other countries.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in a statement that federal authorities would "continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and to bring to justice to those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations."
Nine other men have been charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy, three of whom have pleaded guilty. Five others await trial in May 2016, while the other remains in Syria.
According to the federal criminal complaint, the group of Somali-American men — aged 19 to 21 — began discussing plans for reaching Syria to join ISIS in April 2014 after watching propaganda videos on religious violence.
Later that year, 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport while on a plane destined for Istanbul, Turkey. Abdullahi Yusuf was also arrested at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with the same goal. Each of them was charged with conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization.
Abdi Nur was also charged but only after successfully making it to Syria.
Then in April, two suspects — Mohamed Abdihamid Farah and Abrudahman Daud — were arrested in San Diego while allegedly trying to obtain fake passports.
Four others — Guled Omar, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, and Hanad Mustafe Musse — were arrested on the same day in Minneapolis and charged with similar crimes.
Warsame, who authorities say had been appointed leader of the group as Omar prepared to travel to Syria, allegedly encouraged the others to travel to Syria via Mexico.
According to the FBI, Warsame planned to travel with family to East Africa, where he would either break free and travel to Syria, or wait in Somalia for the al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab to pledge allegiance to ISIS. Little did he know, however, that the FBI had an informant feeding the agency information about the group's plans.
Authorities say Warsame repeatedly attempted to contact ISIS members in Syria, and provided money to an alleged co-conspirator to expedite his U.S. passport paperwork.
Appearing briefly in court Thursday, he was ordered held pending a pre-trial hearing next week.
Warsame is just the latest in a series of related cases coming out of Minnesota. Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men have traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, the Associated Press reported.
The problem has become so persistent that in April, Andrew M. Lugar, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, told reporters that the state appeared to have "a terror-recruiting problem."
Community leader Sadik Warfa told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the latest case was "deju vu all over again" and worried about how it would reflect on Muslims already under national scrutiny.
"Islamophobia is a real concern within our community," he told the newspaper. "If someone in the Somali community has done wrong, the legal system will take care of it. But cases such as this shouldn’t reflect on the entire community."
Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jason Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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