Two Somali-American men living in Minnesota are facing fraud and terrorism charges in an alleged scheme to spend federal student loan money on airline tickets to fly from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Athens, Greece and Istanbul, Turkey.
From those two destinations, authorities say the pair then planned on heading to Syria to fight for the ISIS terrorist army.
The indictment, brought by U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis and unsealed earlier this week, charged that Hamza Ahmed, 21, and Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, with providing material support to the terror group ISIS. “Material support” can include a plan to travel to Syria to join ISIS.
Ahmed spent $1,048 in student loan funds on a ticket to Istanbul, Turkey. Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, spent $1,269 in student loan funds on a ticket to Athens, Greece. Both traveled from Minnesota to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport by Greyhound bus.
The two men are among seven young Somali-Americans from Minnesota who face charges of planning to leave the United States and fight alongside Islamic extremist groups. Prosecutors charged six others of plotting to join ISIS in April.
Among the six was Abdirahman Daud, 21. Prosecutors charged him with participating in a similar scheme to join ISIS. Daud appeared before U.S. Chief District Judge Michael Davis in Minneapolis for arraignment earlier this week.
Daud was traveling was arrested by the FBI in San Diego, along with another alleged conspirator Mohamed Farah, after they drove from Minneapolis to California. A confidential informant working for the FBI accompanied the two on the 1,500-mile trip.
According to the charging documents, Daud and Farah allegedly planned to acquire false documents in San Diego, use them to cross into Mexico and then fly to the Middle East intent of entering Syria to fight.
Back in Minneapolis, KMSP TV reported that Ahmed was already abort the airplane preparing to takeoff when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents ordered the flight back to the terminal to pull him off the aircraft.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ahmed and Musse attended Minnesota Community & Technical College in Minneapolis. Their arrest brings to 20 the number of Somalis living in Minnesota known to have either left or have tried to leave the state to fight for the jihadist terrorist group ISIS.
“Nothing stopped these defendants from pursuing their goal, never stopped plotting another way to get to Syria to join (ISIAS),” U.S. Attorney Andy Lugar said.