The Department of Justice on Monday released a statement announcing it had arrested two men who had conspired to assist ISIS.
The two men, who originally came to the U.S. as refugees from Somalia, had spoken with an undercover FBI agent “whom they believed was a supporter of ISIS ideology,” the DOJ press release said.
“These communications revealed the defendants’ desire to travel overseas in order to fight on behalf of ISIS or to conduct an attack within the United States if they were unable to travel. Ultimately, the defendants purchased airline tickets to travel to Egypt, with the intention to travel on to Sinai and join ISIS,” the DOJ said.
The two men, Ahmed Mahad Mohamed, 21, and Abdi Yemani Hussein, 20, were arrested on July 26 after they checked in at the Tucson International Airport for their flight to Egypt. While both men came to the U.S. as refugees, Mohamed “had obtained lawful permanent resident status and Hussein remained a refugee,” the release said.
Special Agent Mike Mutari provided the affidavit in support of an application for a criminal complaint, alleging the two men planned to join ISIS once they left the U.S. He wrote in the affidavit that the investigation into Mohamed began in August 2018 “based on information which indicated Mohamed had a desire to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, that is, ISIS.”
On August 13, 2018, Mohamed initiated correspondence with an FBI Online Covert Employee whom he believed was located overseas. Mohamed allegedly sent messages to this person saying he supported ISIS and wanted to make “hijrah” to join ISIS. As the FBI noted in a footnote in the affidavit, hijrah “in the context of this investigation, is an Arabic phrase referring to a foreign fighter’s journey from his/her country of origin to join and fight in terrorist-held territories.”
Mohamed also told the undercover FBI agent: “I love jihad so much wallahi. I give my life jihad, I only think about jihad everywhere I go but my father and mom they don’t like jihad if they knew me I want to make hijrah they would spy me.”
“Wallahi” is an Arabic phrase for “I swear by Allah.”
In December 2018, Mohamed was introduced to another undercover FBI agent and reached out to say the same. He told this agent he had saved about $2,000 to travel to join ISIS. He told the agent that he was worried his family would call the police if they found out what he was planning. Over the next month, Mohamed told this undercover agent that he wanted to kill people on behalf of ISIS, possibly using a truck. He also referenced the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York City as inspiration.
“The best wake up call is Islamic State to get victory or another 911,” he allegedly wrote to the FBI agent.
On March 12, 2019, Mohamed met with the undercover FBI agent in person, bringing Hussein with him, according to the affidavit. Hussein said he also supported Al-Shabaab and would travel with Mohamed to fight for ISIS. The two made travel arrangements and received travel visas to go to Egypt and then on to Sinai to join ISIS. They were arrested before they boarded their flight.