Various news stories reported the transfer into federal custody in Columbus, Ohio yesterday of 23 year old Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud indicted for allegedly traveling to receive Al Qaeda training in Syria, returning to plan a possible attack on a military installation in Texas. Eric Stakelbeck, whose latest book ISIS Exposed targeted the Somali émigré community of over 100,000 in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis–St. Paul as the hub for Al Qaeda and now ISIS recruitment. Columbus, Ohio is the second largest Somali émigré community in America with over 40,000 to upwards of 80,000.
Noted Counter terrorism analyst, Patrick Poole has monitored radical elements in the Columbus Somali émigré community for nearly a decade including alleged recruitment for Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab. This indictment of Mohamud is reflective of deep problems arising from a virtually UN controlled U.S. Refugee Program subsidizing the growth of a population in this country that reject American values and laws and are prone to recruitment as Jihadis by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23 years old, allegedly trained with extremists in Syria last year as part of that country’s civil war before receiving instructions to attack police officers or military targets in the U.S., according to an indictment released Thursday. No such attack appears to have taken place.
The case stands out among recent charges against Americans accused of trying to join Islamic State or other extremist groups because the Justice Department says Mr. Mohamud actually got to Syria and received training in explosives, weapons and hand-to-hand combat.
Defendants in nearly all the other cases were arrested at U.S. airports as they attempted to leave the country. In many of them, the terrorist recruiter they thought they were working with was an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
In February of last year, Mr. Mohamud, who is a native of Somalia, obtained his U.S. citizenship, the indictment says. A week later, he sent in an application for a passport. Then, in April of 2014, Mr. Mohamud bought a one-way plane ticket to Athens, with a layover in Istanbul. But, according to the indictment, he never got on the flight to Greece. Instead, he allegedly met up with men who took him to Syria.
Mr. Mohamud was arrested in February of this year on state terrorism charges and held by Ohio authorities. Before he was indicted on federal charges, he tried to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, but those talks fell apart, said people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Mohamud was being transferred to federal custody Thursday. He faces one charge of providing material support to terrorists, another of providing material support to the al Qaeda affiliate known as Nusra Front, and a third of lying to federal agents. Each charge carries up to 15 years in prison.
The WSJ noted the family terrorist tradition:
The man who helped Mr. Mohamud get to Syria was allegedly an actual fighter—his brother, Abdifatah Aden Mohamud, according to the indictment. In late 2013 and early 2014, Abdirahman allegedly exchanged messages with his brother in which he said he was proud of him and they plotted about how Abdirahman could join him in Syria. In one message, Abdirahman told his brother that firing a rifle brought one closer to heaven.
Mr. Mohamud also posted messages on Facebook before he allegedly left the U.S. In one, according to the indictment, he said, “We will never lose to these pagan Alawites,” an apparent reference to the Alawite sect of Islam to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs. In another, he posted an image of a soldier with the Islamic State logo and the words, “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah.”
The indictment quotes from online conversations between the two men who transported Mr. Mohamud to Syria from Turkey. One said that Mr. Mohamud had gone to the al Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front, but had wanted to join Islamic State.
How social media entrapped Mohamud:
Once in Syria, Mr. Mohamud appears to have sent videos to a contact in the U.S., the indictment says. One showed him carrying a gun on his hip and saying he was in Syria. In a video allegedly sent to another contact, Mr. Mohamud held an AK-47 rifle.
That June, according to the indictment, his brother appears to have been killed in battle in Syria. Just before he was to begin fighting in Syria, a cleric allegedly told Mr. Mohamud he should instead go home and launch an attack. Mr. Mohamud returned to the U.S. He allegedly told someone—identified in the indictment only as Unnamed Person #1—that he had gone to Syria and received combat training.
Mr. Mohamud allegedly said he wanted to attack military or police targets. He told a second person he wanted to do “something big” in the U.S., like going to a military base in Texas and executing a few American soldiers, the indictment said.
This February an FBI agent interviewed Mr. Mohamud. He denied.
How Mohamud was arrested upon his return to the U.S.:
Mr. Mohamud attended high school in Columbus, after which he worked at warehouse jobs in the area and had “virtually no contact with the criminal justice system,’’ his lawyer said.
But last December, after Mr. Mohamud returned from his trip overseas, he was arrested after walking out on a restaurant check without paying and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, according to a lawyer who represented him in that case. He was scheduled to be sentenced in February, but didn’t show up in court. A few days later he was arrested on state terrorism charges.
Hassan Omar, head of the Somali Association of Ohio is cited by the WSJ saying:
This is very unfortunate news. It is not something we had been expecting from this community. There is not a single Somali youth who left here to join Al Shabaab or any terrorist groups. We are law-abiding and not violent.”
“Nobody expected a young man educated in the U.S. to do this.
Really, both Mr. Mohamud indictment and his late brother recruited him and later died fighting in Syria put the lie to that statement. It begs the question of how radical elements within the Columbus Somali émigré community
Note this comment from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) of the House Homeland Security Committee about this Ohio indictment:
The indictment Thursday “highlights the grave threat we face from returning American jihadists. “Terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda are luring Americans to the combat zone in Syria and Iraq, and radicalized individuals are now clearly returning with the training and motivation to bring terror to our shores.”
In a March 22, 2015 Iconoclast post, we reported a New York Times front page story on the chronicle of a pair Somali émigré youths in the Twin Cities, one of whom successfully traveled to Syria to join ISIS, while his friend was stopped before he could board a flight to join his fellow mujahideen. The conclusion to our post can also be applied to the indictment of Columbus Somali émigré Mohamud.
This is the latest story of how the U.S. humanitarian refugee program, controlled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, flooded this major Midwestern community with in excess of 40,000 plus East Africa Muslims. Many of them failed to assimilate into American culture with radical Mosques possibly recruiting dozens of native born jihadists to fight and die for first al Shabaab in Somalia and now for ISIS in Syria. We have written about this repeatedly since 2008. The Wall Street Journal article didn’t delve into how the Somali refugees came to the Twin cities with the assistance of voluntary agencies paid by the State Department and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement to process them, provide cash assistance, Medicaid and receive a green card to eventually citizens. All while many of these Muslim émigrés rejected American values, instead seeking to impose their Sharia law on the host non-Muslim community.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, left, speaks with his attorney, Sam Shamansky, during a hearing in Columbus, Ohio, in February. Photo: Andrew Welsh-Huggins/Associated Press.