The 20-year-old leader of a group of aspiring Islamic terrorists from Minnesota pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to provide material support to the designated Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terror group.
Throughout early 2014, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame took part in several meetings for a group of ISIS terror hopefuls from Minnesota’s Somali-American community. At these meetings, members of the group discussed ways to fund their journeys to Syria to join ISIS. Members also devised the best methods of evading law enforcement.
At least nine of the men met during one night that spring at a local mosque where they “played basketball and watched propaganda videos that glorified religious violence,” according to the indictment against Warsame.
“ISIL recruiting in Minnesota is an ongoing problem,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. Luger went on to suggest that Warsame’s guilty plea is evidence that the aspiring Islamic terrorist is moving toward rehabilitation and the move will help the community heal.
Warsame applied for an expedited passport in April 2014. He planned to use that passport to make his way to Syria and join ISIS. He also gave co-conspirator Adnan Farah $200 toward Farah’s expedited passport. He was fully aware of Farah’s intention to travel to Syria as Warsame and join ISIS, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
In the following month, May 2014, Warsame met with the group of co-conspiring ISIS supporters and ascended to the position of “emir” — the group’s leader. His predecessor was Guled Ali Omar, a member of the group that was planning his departure for Syria to join ISIS.
In June 2014, the young aspiring terrorist obtained ISIS fighter H.K.’s phone number from a man who later became a cooperating human source (CHS) with the FBI. The CHS had traveled to San Diego, California, in May 2014 and was waiting to hear from former Minnesota and San Diego resident Douglas McAuthur McCain before he heard from Warsame. McCain successfully traveled to Syria and joined ISIS. He is believed to be the first American to die fighting for ISIS in Syria. The DOJ described details of Warsame’s plea in which he admitted passing the contact information to a Y.J. who was attempting to leave Turkey and join ISIS in Syria.
The following April, Warsame met several times with co-conspirators Omar, Abdirahman Daud, Mohamed Farah, and Adnan Farah. During these meetings, Warsame encouraged Omar’s trip to Syria to join ISIS.
After becoming emir, Warsame urged those in the group who already had passports and money to travel to Syria by the end of the coming summer, according to the indictment against him. Three of the men, not including Warsame, attempted to make the trip by traveling through Mexico, but they were apprehended in southern California.
Nine other members of Warsame’s group were charged for their involvement in the conspiracy to join and/or support ISIS. Three have pleaded guilty; Warsame is the fourth.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.