An Ohio man, who allegedly trained with an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, was charged Thursday for planning a terrorist attack in the United States, federal prosecutors said. Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud had traveled to Syria to join his brother who was fighting alongside the Jabhat al-Nusrah group.
The 23-year-old U.S. citizen, originally from Somalia, faces three felony counts, which include supporting a terrorist organization and making false statements to the FBI. If convicted, Mohamud could reportedly face up to 28 years in prison. Authorities said that Mohamud is suspected to have left the U.S. in April 2014 and reportedly returned to conduct terrorist attacks. Mohamud, who was arrested on Feb. 21, in Columbus, Ohio, will plead not guilty at a Friday arraignment, his attorney Sam Shamansky said, according to the Associated Press.
“Mohamud talked about doing something big in the United States,” according to the indictment. “He wanted to go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”
Government records stated that Mohamud became a U.S. citizen in February 2014. He exchanged emails with his brother Abdifatah Aden and expressed a desire to join him "in the high ranks as a Mujahid," according to the indictment. Aden was reportedly killed in June 2014 while fighting for Jabhat al-Nusrah, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
The indictment revealed that, upon his return to the U.S., Mohamud told an unidentified person that he was trained in shooting weapons and had undergone explosives training in Syria. He also revealed to the person that just before he was about to start fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria, a cleric linked to an unspecified militant group told him he should return to the U.S. to "carry out an act of terrorism."
The cleric was identified as a representative of the Nusra Front by a law enforcement official, Reuters reported.
"Identifying and neutralizing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters who return to the United States is one of the National Security Division's highest priorities," John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security said, in a statement, according to USA Today.