Leader of Minnesota's 10 ISIS suspects pleads guilty

- Abdirizak Warsame, the 10th Minnesota man charged with conspiring to join ISIS, pled guilty Thursday afternoon in federal court in Minneapolis. Warsame, 20, stands out from the group because federal prosecutors allege he was a ringleader amongst the young recruits and that he was capable of carrying out a terrorist attack in the United States.

According to the indictment, Warsame and 9 others planned to travel to Syria and fight with ISIS terrorists. In his guilty plea, Warsame admitted to becoming the leader of the group in May 2014 and encouraging several of the others suspects to travel to Syria to join ISIS. 

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At a December hearing, an FBI agent testified that Warsame was recorded telling a friend that he knew how to make rocket-propelled grenades, and that he had the materials at home to do so. He shared the information with a friend as they walked around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis and watched planes come and go. The FBI agent also testified that Warsame used to work at the airport as a baggage handler. A spokesperson with Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport confirmed that Warsame worked for Integrated Deicing from December 2013 to April 2014, and for aircraft fueling company Swissport from April 2014 to August 2014.

The FBI believes Warsame had been planning to leave the United States for Syria in the spring of 2014 but his passport application was denied. More recently, he had been discussing plans to travel to Syria from Somalia in 2015, according to the complaint.

'A good kid'

Most recently, Warsame was going to Normandale Community College and was working long hours as a security guard. He was living in Eagan with his mother, who had very publicly encouraged parents in the community to cooperate with the FBI. Community leader Mohamud Noor knew Warsame when he was just a young teenager, doing spoken word poetry in the neighborhood and playing basketball at the local community center.

“[He was] a good kid who was looking forward to a better future. [He] was trying to fit into the society in his place,” Noor said.

Status of other 9 suspects

Five other suspects from Minnesota appeared in court Thursday morning and are scheduled to stand trial in May, facing life in prison. Three others already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Authorities say the 9th suspect is in Syria. In the past 10 years, dozens of young Minnesota men have left to join terror groups overseas, including al-Shabaab in Somalia.

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