A man from Minnesota has been charged with conspiring to help the Islamic State group, a report said Wednesday, citing court documents. Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan, which lies south of capital Saint Paul in Dakota County, was arrested and charged Wednesday by a criminal complaint with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS.
According to court documents, cited by the Associated Press (AP), Warsame tried to help other men from the state’s Somali community reach Syria to fight alongside ISIS. The documents, which stated that nine others from that group have already been charged, allege that all of them planned to go to Syria through Mexico. One of the men planning to travel to Syria had appointed Warsame as the group leader, or “emir.”
"As the new emir, Warsame immediately encouraged those with passports and money to travel to Syria by the end of the upcoming summer," said an FBI special agent's affidavit, cited by the AP.
Warsame reportedly gave one of the men $200 for an expedited passport application. Warsame had also applied for a U.S. passport on an expedited basis, but his application was rejected. He eventually got his passport in August 2014, the AP reported, citing the affidavit.
Besides, one of the men also reportedly made reservations to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2014 from Minnesota, with the intention of heading further to Syria. The day before he was set to leave, Warsame and two others accompanied him to print out his itinerary and buy things for the travel. However, this person was stopped at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by FBI agents, who prevented him from boarding the flight.
Warsame is in police custody and is expected to appear in U.S. District Court on Thursday. Court documents did not list a defense attorney for Warsame, the AP reported.
Five Minnesota men will stand trial in May on charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S., which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. Prosecutors reportedly said that the men are friends in Minnesota's Somali community and helped each other join the Sunni militant group. Some tried to reach out to ISIS members overseas, others arranged for duplicate passports and some prepared for combat training, the AP reported.
Three other members from the group have already pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and are waiting to receive their sentences. The ninth person has reached Syria, authorities reportedly said.
Since 2013, about a dozen residents from Minnesota have traveled to Syria to join ISIS. And, since 2007, over 22 men from the Somali community in Minnesota have left the state to join al-Shabab in Somalia.
The report comes even as the U.S. struggles to deal with the aftermath of last week's attack in San Bernardino, California. A couple had opened fire at the Inland Regional Center during a holiday lunch on Dec. 2, killing 14 people and injuring 21 others. The assault triggered debate about gun laws in the country and methods to tackle ISIS.