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2 Tucson residents charged with attempting to join ISIS

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2 Tucson residents charged with attempting to join ISIS

  • Frank Deanrdo/Flickr

Two men were arrested Friday at the Tucson airport by the FBI, allegedly for planning to fly overseas to join a terrorist organization, officials said.

Ahmed Mahad Mohamed, 21, and Abdi Yemani Hussein, 20, were arrested after a nearly year-long undercover investigation by the FBI, according to court documents filed under seal on Friday and made public Monday.

They are being charged in federal court with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

Mohamed is a lawful permanent resident and a refugee from Somalia, and Hussein is also a Somali refugee, the FBI said in a charging affidavit.

A hearing has not yet been set in the case.

The case began in mid-August 2018, when Mohamed "initiated contact" with an FBI "online covert employee" on a social media service, authorities said. Mohamed thought the FBI employee was an ISIS supporter, and the 21-year-old repeatedly expressed his admiration for the terrorist group.

He told the FBI employee that he wanted to be the "beheading guy" if he joined ISIS in Syria, and wrote that "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 on me," court documents allege.

Mohamed also wrote that "I want to kill them so many I am thirsty for their blood," the documents said.

In December 2018, Mohamed was introduced to an undercover FBI agent in Tucson, and eventually met in person after what the court documents said were repeated discussions about traveling to the Middle East to fight with ISIS.

In March, Mohamed brought Hussein to one of those meetings, and told the FBI agent he wanted to join Al-Shabab, another terrorist organization.

Mohamed indicated that he would carry out an attack in the United States if he were unable to join ISIS overseas, the FBI said.

The two men made travel arrangements, including purchasing airplane tickets to travel to Cairo, according to the FBI filing.

The FBI monitored the paperwork submitted by the two men as they planned their travel, the filing said.

After Mohamed told the undercover agent last Thursday that the two had bought the tickets, they were arrested at Tucson International Airport the next day after they checked in for a flight and had passed through security, en route "join ISIS," the FBI said.

The Justice Department requested that the charges be sealed on Friday, citing a "sensitive matter of national security" and telling the judge that witnesses were still being interviewed. The prosecutors told the judge that they would ask for the documents to be unsealed on Monday.

Magistrate Judge Maria S. Davila granted that motion to seal, and approved Monday's motion to make the case available.

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