Minnesota man charged with conspiring to support Islamic State

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 19, 2015 3:13 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A Minnesota man pulled off an airplane bound for Turkey last year has been indicted on charges of conspiring to support Islamic State and lying to federal agents investigating recruitment by militant groups, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Hamza Ahmed, 19, and three other young Minnesota men were stopped from taking international flights from New York on Nov. 8 after traveling by bus from Minneapolis, prosecutors said.

He has been detained since he was charged in early February with making a false statement to federal agents and is also charged with attempting to provide material support to Islamic State militants, prosecutors said in a statement.

Ahmed is at least the fourth person from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area charged during an investigation into people traveling or trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said.

Dozens of people from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, many of them Somali-Americans, have traveled or attempted to travel overseas to support groups such as Islamic State or al Shabaab since 2007, according to prosecutors.

Luger said his office is committed to prosecuting those who attempt to provide material support to Islamic State and other organizations and to working with community members to stop the recruiting cycle.

Ahmed and the other men stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in November are all 19 or 20 years old and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, prosecutors said. Ahmed was flying to Istanbul, which has been used as a gateway to Syria for people joining Islamic State militants.

Ahmed told agents he was traveling alone and did not know the other men, but electronic records showed he likely bought a bus ticket within minutes from the same computer as one of the men and they went to a bus station together, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have not said whether the other three men traveling with Ahmed have been charged.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Eric Beech)