Six men were arrested in California and Minnesota on Sunday out of suspicion that they plotted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic terror group ISIS, which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
According to reports, four of the men were arrested in Minneapolis and two in San Diego. Most were Somalis and were in their late teens or early twenties. They have been identified as Zacharia Abdurahman, 19, Adnan Farah, 19, Hanad Musse, 19, Guled Omar, 20, Abdirahman Daud, 21, and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21.
“These were not confused young men,” Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger stated during a press conference on Monday. “These are focused young men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means possible.”
He noted that the men had ties to 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed, who was indicted in February on terror charges after seeking to travel to Syria and lying to authorities about the matter.
Federal investigators have been looking into approximately 15 youth from the Twin Cities area who have allegedly traveled to Syria over the past year to connect with terror groups. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that since 2007, over 20 Somalis have left Minnesota to join Al-Shabaab. At least nine are dead, while others have been discovered and arrested. Some still remain at large.
Last November, American Somalians Abdi Nur, 20, and Abdullah Yusuf, 18, were both arrested on charges that they had conspired to join ISIS.
“As charged, these two young men conspired to join [ISIS] and travel from Minnesota to the Middle East to engage in a campaign of terror in support of a violent ideology,” Luger said in a press release. “Since al-Shabaab began recruiting young adults from the Twin Cities in 2007, our region has lost dozens of disaffected young people to terrorist organizations that would sooner see Somali Minnesotans die on foreign battlefields than prosper in peace and security in the United States.”
Somali activist Omar Jamal told the International Business Times that the matter has the Somali community confused.
“This is a very serious issue,” he said. “We as a community are concerned about losing our kids to ISIS.”
Sunday’s arrests come just days after suspects in Kansas and Wisconsin were likewise taken into custody on charges of providing material support to ISIS.
John Booker, Jr., 20, of Topeka, Kan. was arrested on April 10 after an undercover operation found that he had been plotting to detonate a car bomb at Fort Riley in a jihad suicide mission. Alexander Blair, 28, of Topeka was also arrested for failure to report a felony, as he is accused of knowing about Booker’s plan and loaning him money to rent a storage shed to hold the explosives.
Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisc. was arrested on April 8 by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) after returning to the U.S. from Turkey. He had been under investigation as officials noted his travel patterns and his terroristic philosophies and undertakings posted to his personal Facebook page.
“It’s either now or never,” Van Haften allegedly wrote. “If and when the Kuffar (slaves of America) come at me to arrest me or take me, I’m fighting them. [Expletive] if they ever take me freely again!”
As previously reported, James Comey, the director of the FBI, stated at a recent meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) that he believes ISIS sympathizers are present nationwide.
“Those people exist in every state,” he outlined. “I have homegrown violent extremist investigations in every single state. Until a few weeks ago there was 49 states. Alaska had none, which I couldn’t quite figure out. But Alaska has now joined the group, so we have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states.”
Over the past two years, approximately 50 Americans have been arrested and charged with either plotting to join or emulate ISIS.