Of the 6 men charged, 4 of them were actually accused of trying to fly to Syria through Turkey back in November, but were allegedly stopped. Therefore they knew they were under the microscope, but were still allegedly trying to do it again. Federal prosecutors said the Minnesota recruits for ISIS are very persistent.
"Nothing stopped these defendants from pursuing their goal, never stopped plotting another way to get to Syria to join ISIL," U.S. Attorney Andy Lugar said.
Last November, 5 young men took a Greyhound bus to New York's JFK Airport, but were stopped from boarding flights to Turkey. But only Abdullah Yusuf was indicted. The other men allegedly didn't give up. The other 4 were charged in federal court Monday, along with the two Minnesota men who were arrested in San Diego trying to buy fake passports to travel to Syria via Mexico.
Prosecutors knew this because one of the men had become a confidential informant and was secretly making audio recordings.
"These were not confused young men," Luger said. "They were not easily influenced. These are focused young men who are intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means necessary."
But who's ultimately calling the shots? Who's providing the money? The logistics? Federal prosecutors say another Minnesotan, Abdi Nur, who's already in Syria, was acting as a de facto recruiter.
The young men also relied on each other, even selling an old car to make money to travel to Syria.
"This group of friends is recruiting each other," Luger said. "They are engaged in what we call ‘peer to peer recruiting.' Friend to friend, brother to brother."
Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21; Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19; and Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19
These 3 men were already known to the FBI when they allegedly traveled with 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed from Minneapolis to New York City on a Greyhound bus last November. All 4 were stopped before boarding the plane to Istanbul. Hamza Ahmed was charged last February with providing material support to a terrorist organization.
Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, and Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19
Adnan Farah, Adburahman Daud and a seventh person joined the 3 suspects listed above in discussions to obtain fake passports and assemble a new travel plan. According to documents filed in court, between March 30 and April 9, 2015, several of the defendants gave cash and passport photos to a confidential source who had identified a source of forged passports in San Diego. At approximately 8:15 p.m. on April 17, Daud, Mohamed Farah and the confidential source left Minneapolis by car, bound for San Diego.
Guled Ali Omar, 20
On Nov. 6, 2014, Omar was stopped at the Minneapolis airport before he could board a flight to San Diego. He had previously planned to leave the United States in May 2014 to join ISIS, but ditched those plans after being confronted by his family.
"As described in the criminal complaint, these men worked over the course of the last 10 months to join ISIL," said U.S. Attorney Andy Luger. "Even when their co-conspirators were caught and charged, they continued to seek new and creative ways to leave Minnesota to fight for a terror group. I applaud the hard work and tireless efforts of the FBI Minneapolis Division and their colleagues around the country."
9 Minnesotans have tried to join ISIS
At least 9 Minnesotans have now been charged with trying to join ISIS. The men are all friends of one another, according to the FBI. Hamza Ahmed was indicted in February, and Abdullahi Yusuf and Abdi Nur were charged in November.
2 men made it to Turkey
Abdi Nur boarded a flight to Turkey on May 29, 2014 and has not returned to the United States. He called a relative on June 6, 2014 from a phone number with a Turkish country code, and said he had reached his destination and that he would not be calling again. The same phone number was used 3 weeks later by another man who traveled from the Twin Cities to Syria to join ISIS.
On June 3, a person identified in court documents as Y.J., purchased a roundtrip ticket from JFK Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, and a bus ticket from Minneapolis to New York. He departed JFK on June 9 and used the same Turkish phone number to call a family member.