Judge allows ISIS conspirator to remain out of prison

Abdullahi Yusuf of Inver Grove Heights
Abdullahi Yusuf in 2015
Sherburne County

A judge on Tuesday found that an ISIS co-conspirator had violated the terms of his supervised release, but did not order the man to prison.

Abdullahi Yusuf, 21, had watched a documentary about the ISIS terror organization on CNN at the halfway house where he has been living. Yusuf is one of nine co-conspirators who plotted to travel to Syria and join ISIS, but he later cooperated with the government and pleaded guilty last year.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis sentenced him to time served and 20 years of supervised release. Sentences handed down to the other men ranged from two and a half years to 35 years.

Among the rules governing Yusuf's release was a prohibition on watching terror videos. ISIS uses web videos as one of its recruiting tools. The judge found that Yusuf had violated his probation by watching the CNN documentary and failing a polygraph test.

"I could have easily sent you to prison today," Davis told Yusuf in court on Tuesday. "I told you, I don't have a [terrorist rehabilitation] program. So we are working together to make you well. But if there is a misstep, my only alternative is to send you to prison."

"You're 21, still developing," Davis said. "I want to walk you through this ... with you being lost and sucked into ISIS ideology ... because your compass has been off. And so I need you to commit to me, that you're going to work on it yourself, not anybody else. That's the hard part, to be able to look at yourself, and say 'I was wrong.'"

Yusuf told the judge he was "disgusted with myself."

"You gave me a second chance at life," he said. "And I want to take advantage of that."

Yusuf told the judge he didn't know watching a CNN report would violate his supervised release. He said he was committed to "changing myself, to be someone my family can be proud of, my community, you."

After the hearing, Yusuf's father, Sadik, told reporters: "We are happy how things go."

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