INVESTIGATORS: 'Connecting the dots'

The Fox 9 Investigators have learned that a Minnesota man who the Department of Homeland Security says has the “operational capacity” to carry out a terror attack, is now studying to get his Class A Commercial Drivers License that would allow him to drive semi-trucks. If he passes a second FBI background check, he could even haul hazardous materials.

Amir Meshal has lived in Minnesota since 2012, and is currently attending school at Interstate Truck Driving School in South St. Paul, Minn. Meshal has already completed 80 of 160 hours of classroom instruction. The $4,000 tuition paid for by the state Workforce Program. When the Fox 9 Investigators went to the school last week, he was learning to back up trucks.

Last June, a Bloomington mosque, Al Farooq, kicked Meshal out and had him ticketed for trespassing. According to a police report, Al Farooq told Bloomington Police, "We have concerns about Meshal interacting with our youth.” Several sources confirm for the Fox 9 Investigators that Meshal met many of the 14 Minnesota men and one woman accused of being recruited to fight for ISIS at Al Farooq, where they would gather for payer, religious studies, and to play basketball.

Meshal is also on the TSA no-fly list, and isn't allowed to use commercial aviation. In a letter last December, Homeland Security says Meshal “may be a threat to civil aviation or national security." And added this chilling statement: "It has been determined that you (Amir Meshal) are an individual who represents a threat of engaging in or conducting a violent act of terrorism and who is operationally capable of doing so." The reasons for that statement are blacked out in court records.

Meshal has been on the FBI's radar since 2007, when the FBI arrested Meshal in Kenya, as he was leaving an Al Qaeda training camp in Somalia. For three months, Meshal who is a U.S. citizen, was held in rendition, shuttled between secret prisons in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, enduring hours of intense interrogation.

According to a lawsuit the ACLU filed on Meshal's behalf, the FBI offered him a deal: become an informant, and he would be taken off the “No-Fly List." Meshal refused and he was released in his native New Jersey. Meshal, who is of Egyptian descent, has an intriguing family tree. His uncle, Khalid Ibrahim, is an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Meshal moved to Minnesota in 2012, to live with wealthy relatives who have supported him financially.

Last winter, the Fox 9 Investigators, reported that Meshal had gotten a job as a snow plow driver for the Minnesota Department of Transportation at the MnDOT garage located a couple hundred feet from the runway of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Meshal was fired from that job after only a few weeks.

At a recent news conference on April 20, when terror charges were announced against six young men, Fox 9 Investigator Tom Lyden asked U.S. Attorney Andy Luger about Meshal recruiting young people at Al Farooq.

Luger: "Good to hear the same question another time."

Lyden: "I never give up."

Luger: "And you shouldn't. There's nothing in the complaint that talks about M. Meshal, the only mention of Al Farooq is in relation to Mr. Yusuf, but keep asking."

Despite Meshal's history, and even though he's on the “No Fly List,” Meshal was able to pass an FBI background check when he got his certification to drive a school bus.

When the FOX 9 Investigators tried to talk to Meshal after he attended school in South St. Paul, he didn't want to talk about his career prospects or the ISIS recruits. "Talk to my lawyer." he said as he got into his vehicle.

“Mr. Meshal has never been charged with a crime and like many other unemployed Americans, he's trying to obtain training for a job so he can build a life for his family, including a newborn child,” his attorney with the ACLU, Hina Shamsi, said in a statement. “Any suggestion that Mr. Meshal's effort to get a job somehow presents a concern is shameful.”

In a separate statement, Amir Meshal tells the FOX 9 Investigators, “I would never suggest that anyone join ISIS or any other group that kills innocent people, nor would I ever provide money to do so. I've been trying to live a normal life like any other citizen, but that is very difficult when false accusations are made against me. I grew up with the values of fairness and justice, and if the government also respected them by owning up to the terrible way it treated me in the past, it would help the rumors and innuendo go away.”

Meshal has two separate cases on appeal against the US Government. A federal judge reluctant dismissed his case regarding rendition, but called the government's treatment of Meshal “appalling” and “embarrassing.” Meshal is also appealing Homeland Security's decision not to take him of the “No Fly List.”


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