The Minneapolis Star Tribune brings us the infuriating story of Hamaz Ahmed, 20, and Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, two Twin Cities college students who allegedly used federal student loan money to buy plane tickets to the Middle East to join ISIS.
This abuse of student loan funds adds a charge of financial fraud to the allegations of conspiracy to support terrorism facing the pair. They were among “seven young Somali-Americans from Minnesota who face charges of planning to leave the United States and fight alongside Islamic extremist groups,” according to the Star Tribune, which says the FBI counts 20 Somali-Americans from Minnesota who have defected to the Islamic State.
“The new indictment says that Ahmed and Musse bought airline tickets on November 8, 2014, from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Europe, using more than $1,000 in federal college financial aid,” the Star Tribune reports, adding:
Ahmed used his aid money to purchase a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, authorities say. Musse used similar funds to buy a ticket to travel to Greece. From those two destinations, authorities say the pair then planned on heading to Syria. Ahmed had actually boarded his flight when he was ordered off the plane by officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Other members of Ahmed and Musse’s group were allegedly looking to procure false documents in California, cross into Mexico, and make their way to Syria from there.
“Nothing stopped these defendants from pursuing their goal, never stopped plotting another way to get to Syria to join ISIL,” said U.S. Attorney Andy Lugar, as quoted by Fox 9 News in Minneapolis.
The Wall Street Journal paid a visit to the Minnesota Community & Technical College where five of the aspiring ISIS members studied everything from information technology to nursing, although evidently none of them ever graduated. As with many other young people drawn into Islamist terrorism, they seem to have been radicalized swiftly. One of their friends described them as “good boys who went to school, and were involved with the community and their families.”
“Our system would not technically label them at risk,” said the director of a non-profit who works with troubled youths, noting they didn’t have a background of street gang activity, antisocial behavior, or truancy.
They did have a habit of posting pro-jihad sentiments and hatred for the United States on Facebook in the days leading up to their arrests, which is another standard feature of “how did these kids turn to jihad?” stories. It always turns out that their social media accounts are littered with Islamist bile and anti-American statements, but no one says anything until it’s too late.
The WSJ reports that university and community leaders “have expressed the need for a prevention program incorporating Somali leaders, imams, educators and parents.” That sounds like a good idea because waiting for the FBI to haul these kids off flights to Jihadistan is not an optimal solution.