MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Leaked documents are revealing all kinds of information about ISIS recruits from around the world. The files also contain information about a young man who grew up in the Twin Cities.
The names in the documents are mostly redacted, but based on clues on a few pages that were part of the leak, Minnesota Public Radio believes that one of the men mentioned is a Minnesota man who joined and later died fighting for ISIS.
The documents were posted online by Dubai-based Al Aan TV. They show the paper trail of terror – a trail that stretches all the way to Minnesota.
"If anything else, I think it is very clear it's really sophisticated,” local Somali activist Omar Jamal said.
For Jamal, it's who was mentioned in the leaked documents that caught his eye. According to a report by MPR, 18-year-old Minnesota teen Hanad Mohallim is among those to appear in the ISIS documents. Mohallim is thought to have died fighting in Syria in 2014.
Before leaving for Syria, Mohallim kept a fairly low profile. A student at Burnsville High School, he would later be connected to seven Minnesotans arrested for allegedly planning to join ISIS. According to a 71-page indictment, Mohallim was close friends with Hamza Ahmed and Abdullahi Yusuf.
Mohallim's departure came just weeks before investigators say the Minnesota men made an attempt of their own.
“This is a very seductive ideology…that's why I’m saying we cannot fight it using bullets. You fight ideology with an ideology, “Abdiweli Mohamed Gaas, Former Somali Prime Minister and President of the Somali state of Puntland, said
The problem of terror recruitment is one few men know as well as Gaas. He is well-versed in the fight for hearts and minds. In the middle of his North American tour, he says the challenge of stopping terror recruitment is offering young people another option.
"We have to come up with a counter narrative using our traditional leaders, using our scholars,” Gaas said.
In the case of Hanad Mohallim, intervention may have saved his life. In the months before his departure, his online rhetoric grew increasingly aggressive. On Twitter, a long drawn argument with a self-proclaimed atheist took a bizarre turn.
Mohallim's rambling tweet read: "Before you die and get the punishment of being a disbeliever in the true God Allah…" His final tweet came on March 4, 2014. According to MPR, his recruitment documents suggest he arrived in Syria that same month, and would be dead by the end of the year.
Among the many things revealed by this leak is the elaborate travel plan Mohallim took to get to Syria. According to MPR, he traveled to no less than five countries before finally making it inside Syria.