Somali Refugees Arrested in US Trying to Fly to Join ISIS, Trump Reacts

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 30, 2019US News
Somali Refugees Arrested in US Trying to Fly to Join ISIS, Trump Reacts
An ISIS flag is seen during an operation in the desert of Samarra aimed at retaking areas from ISIS jihadis. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Two refugees from Somalia were captured at an airport trying to fly to Egypt to join the Islamic terror group ISIS, federal prosecutors said.

Ahmed Mahad Mohamed, 21, and Abdi Yemani Hussein, 20, were communicating with a woman they thought was a supporter of ISIS but was actually an undercover FBI employee. The men revealed they wanted to travel out of the country to fight on behalf of ISIS. If they weren’t able to, they expressed the desire to carry out a terror attack in the United States.

The undercover FBI employee told Mohamed that she was located overseas and he told her he was a Somalian national, a supporter of ISIS, and wanted to make “hijrah” to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS and achieve martyrdom, according to an affidavit filed in court (pdf). Hijrah is an Arabic phrase referring to a foreign fighter’s journey to join and fight in terrorist-held territories.

“I love jihad so much wallahi [I swear by Allah] 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,” he wrote in one message.

If he made it to Syria or Iraq, Mohamed added, he wanted to become the “beheading guy.”

NTD Photo
An undated image posted by the ISIS “news agency” Amaq on April 23, 2019, showing eight men pledging allegiance to ISIS before carrying out bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. (Amaq News Agency)

ISIS is infamous for its brutal killings, including beheading victims while filming.

“I want to be the behading [sic] person … I want to kill them so many I am thirsty for ther [sic] blood,” he wrote at one point.

In another message, he wrote, “The best wake up call is Islamic State [ISIS] to get victory or another 911,” referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

After months of correspondence, Mohamed met the undercover FBI employee in person in Tuscon and asked her to help him research how to leave the country to go to the Middle East. He wondered if he could travel without a passport. At a second meeting, he brought Hussein with him.

Hussein said he supported al-Shabaab and that he wanted to go to Syria.

Mohamed later obtained his passport and said his cover story would be that he was going to Egypt to study for Ramadan.

Syrian Democratic Forces7
A man selling chicken sits in an area recently retaken by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from ISIS terrorists in Hajin, Syria, on Feb. 16, 2019. (Felipe Dana/AP)

At another meeting on June 24, Hussein told the undercover FBI employee he wanted to get blood on his hands once he arrived overseas, stating he would “kill so many people” and expressing his desire “to be on the frontline” and to join ISIS. He said he’d like to blow up the White House in the future.

Hussein lied and said he was going to get married in Egypt, telling an immigration officer he wanted to leave by July 23. He received emergency travel documents in mid-July.

The men then bought airline tickets to fly to Egypt, with the intention of traveling to Sinai and joining ISIS. FBI agents arrested them at Tuscon International Airport in Arizona after they checked in for their flight on July 26.

Both men originally came to the United States as refugees from Somalia. Mohamed had become a lawful permanent resident while Hussein was still a refugee at the time of their arrest, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

The men were charged with conspiring to knowingly provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

President Donald Trump said he was watching a segment on “Fox & Friends” about the situation on Tuesday morning.

“Somali refugees arrested in Tucson on way to Egypt. They were in touch with an agent posing as a terrorist,” he wrote.

“One of them stated, ‘The best wake up call is Islamic State to get victory or another 9/11.’ Get smart people!”

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