Ohio Man Who Trained With Jabhat Al-Nusra Is Indicted On Terrorism Charges

From the Washington Post:
An Ohio man who traveled to Syria in 2014 and trained with an al-Qaeda affiliate before returning to the United States, possibly to launch an attack on American soldiers, has been indicted on terrorism charges, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Authorities also revealed that the man’s brother was killed last year fighting in Syria on behalf of the affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus faces three felony counts that include attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization as well as lying to the FBI.

It is the first public case the Justice Department has brought this year in connection with al-Nusra, unlike a string of federal cases tied to the Islamic State, the brutal militant group that produces slick propaganda and has attracted thousands of Western recruits.

Mohamud, who was born in Somalia, was previously arrested in February and pleaded not guilty to state terrorism charges and held on a $1 million bond. He was transferred to federal custody Thursday.

According to the indictment, Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen, began planning in 2013 to join his brother, Abdifatah Aden, who had left for Syria in May of that year.

On his Facebook page, he posted an image of what appeared to the black flag of the Islamic State and he uploaded another photograph of a soldier holding a sniper rifle with the Islamic State emblem on it.

In April 2014, prosecutors said, Mohamud bought a one-way ticket to Athens via a connecting flight from Istanbul.

Authorities said Mohamud never caught his connecting flight to Greece and instead began to make his way to the Turkish border with Syria. Turkey has become the most popular transit country for aspiring jihadists trying to reach the Islamic State and other groups.

In late April, the United States intercepted communications indicating that Mohamud had joined al-Nusra, although he had apparently traveled with the intention of enlisting in the Islamic State, according to court documents.

Once in Syria, Mohamud shared videos of himself holding weapons. But before he could join the fight, he said a cleric told him to return to the United States and carry out an act of terrorism at home, according to court documents.

Authorities said Mohamud flew back to the United States and later told an unnamed person that he had learned how to shoot weapons, had undergone explosives training, and wanted to target the U.S. armed forces as well as police officers. He said he would soon join his brother in death.

Mohamud told another unnamed person whom he attempted to recruit that he wanted to do something “big” and discussed attacking a military base in Texas and killing U.S. soldiers “execution style,” according to the indictment.

Mohamud is not the first person in the United States to be charged in connection with al-Nusra. A former U.S. soldier named Eric Harroun pleaded guilty to violating defense export controls after he fought with al-Nusra in 2013 and was released for time served.

He later died of a drug overdose.

At least four other men have been charged with providing material support to al-Nusra. Two were arrested in South Florida and the others in Illinois and North Carolina. One of the men, Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Saudi resident, pleaded guilty to providing material support and last year was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In May 2014, a Floridian named Moner Mohammad Abusalha killed himself in a suicide bombing in Syria. The 22-year-old was also fighting with al-Nusra.

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