On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Feds charge two Minnesotans with trying to aid ISIS

Share story

Updated 3 p.m. | Posted 1 p.m.

Two young Minnesotans face federal conspiracy charges tied to their alleged efforts to provide "material support" to the radical group Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, of Inver Grove Heights and Abdi Nur, 20, of Minneapolis, were charged with "conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization." Nur was also charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota said Tuesday.

The two men conspired to join the terror group and travel from Minnesota to the Middle East "to engage in a campaign of terror in support of a violent ideology," U.S. Attorney Luger said in a statement.

Yusuf was stopped at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey, according to the FBI investigation.

Yusuf, a student at Inver Hills Community College, made an initial court appearance this afternoon in Minneapolis and was ordered detained for a hearing set for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Outside the courthouse, retired law professor Peter Erlinder said Yusuf, his former client, is "not a recruiter. He's someone who may be a dreamer."

Federal officials have identified Minnesota as a center for recruiting for terrorist organizations including ISIS and al-Shabab. The groups have focused in part on recruiting from the large Somali population in the Twin Cities.

Nov. 13: Suspicions grow as FBI's Minn. terror probe churns
Related: Luger releases Minnesota anti-radicalization plan

According to the criminal complaint and other court documents disclosed Tuesday, Yusuf in April applied for an expedited passport, saying he intended to travel to Turkey. But he couldn't specify his travel plans, hotel, travel companions or address of a friend in Turkey who he claimed to have met recently via Facebook.

When a passport office official asked about the cost of his trip, Yusuf said it was about $1,500. Federal officials, however, said Yusuf "had no known source of income."

He got his passport May 5 then allegedly used it to open a checking account on the same day. He was set to fly out May 28. "His parents did not know that Yusuf had obtained a passport and planned to travel to Turkey, nor did they know that he had acquired $1,500 and purchased an airline ticket," prosecutors allege.

Yusuf is also allegedly associated with another former Minnesota resident believed to be fighting in Syria who traveled to Turkey in March, the U.S. Attorney's Office alleged.

The agency identified that person only by the initials "H.M." but said "the same debit card was used to purchase H.M.'s airline ticket as was used to purchase an airline ticket for a third man from Minnesota who later traveled to Syria to fight" with the Islamic State radicals.

Nur left the Twin Cities for Turkey on May 29, also after obtaining an expedited U.S. passport and depositing $1,540 in cash to his checking account. He was scheduled to return to the United States on June 16 but did not.

The complaint and court documents allege Nur became "much more religious," in the two months before leaving for Turkey "including talking about how his family needed to pray more and wear more traditional clothing."

Nur began to talk about jihad during this time, the charges allege. On Facebook, Nur allegedly told someone we "will see each other in the afterlife" and "I'm not coming back."

Charges

Here are the specific counts laid out by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Abdi Nur, 20, Minneapolis
• Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), 1 count
• Providing Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), 1 count

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18 Inver Grove Heights
• Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Grove Heights
(the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), 1 count