MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - One of 8 young men from the Twin Cities accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria entered a guilty plea Thursday afternoon in federal court. Zacharia Abdurahman, 20, is the third alleged ISIS recruit to change his plea to guilty, while 5 others still face charges of providing material support to the terrorist group.
According to court documents, Abdurahman is one of 4 men who took a bus from Minneapolis to New York last November, then attempted to board an overseas flight at JFK Airport with an ultimate destination of Syria.
“Despite being stopped by federal agents on his first attempt, Abdurahman continued to seek ways to join this terrorist group," U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said. "We hope that Abdurahman’s guilty plea today, and those of Hanad Musse and Abdullahi Yusuf before him, deter others from planning to join ISIL.”
Abdurahman’s plea is particularly interesting because, in recordings gathered by an FBI informant, he allegedly said efforts to de-radicalize this group of ISIS recruits are “hopeless.”
"With me, all of us, we're hopeless, we're not gonna be in a program, bro,” Abdurahman told another recruit. “We will straight up serve time. They know they cannot change you. Because you're an adult, you know."
Attorneys had proposed a de-radicalization plan for Abdurahman and his co-defendants that included counseling from elders at a mosque that preaches against violent extremism, and opportunities to continue his community college education.
Abdurahman faces up to 15 years in prison.
Somali leader wanted a trial
Sadik Warfa, a leader in the Twin Cities Somali community, was somewhat critical of the plea. He believes a full trial with testimony and witnesses would finally root out the mastermind behind efforts to convince young men from the Twin Cities to risk their lives traveling to fight overseas.
“Who is recruiting our children? That’s the question,” Warfa said. “Not talking the small fish. I’m talking the big fish.”
Warfa also thinks the government’s investigative tactics of using a paid informant to help break this alleged conspiracy deserves closer scrutiny.