Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, an Ohio resident, was indicted by a federal grand jury on terrorism charges on April 16. Mohamud, 23, allegedly trained in Syria with the Islamic State group. While there, he specialized his training in explosives, hand-to-hand combat and various weapons.
Originally, he was arrested on state charges in February. He now faces new charges that include attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, as well as a singular count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated terrorist organization and providing false statements to the FBI, according to USA Today. The charges specify the material support going to the Nusra Front, Syria’s current branch of Al Qaeda.
The Ohio court papers from his original arrest in February stated he “provided material support and resources or electronic devises to persons engaged in terrorism in the Middle East and has traveled to that area of the world,” according to The New York Times.
Originally from Somalia, Mohamud is a naturalized United States citizen who was living in Columbus, Ohio. He originally purchased a plane ticket to Greece with a layover in Istanbul, but instead proceeded to travel to Syria, where he trained with the Islamic State.
Mohamud was plotting to execute a terrorist attack following his return from Syria in the United States. According to The New York Times, a cleric in Syria told Mohamed that instead of joining the fighting in Syria, he should go back to the United States and therefore commit an act of terrorism on American soil.
The indictment gave a summary of Mohamud’s plan. It stated, “Mohamud talked about doing something big in the United States. He wanted to go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.” It has been specified that if his plan were to fail, he would carry out the attack on a prison or other military base.
Mohamud will plead not guilty to the charges presented against him. He is represented by criminal defense lawyer, Sam Shamansky, who provided more information about his client’s background. Shamansky reported Mohamud was an infant when he and his family emigrated to the United States and in 1998 moved to Columbus. He graduated from high school and proceeded to work in a warehouse in addition to other jobs. Additionally, his criminal record only contains a minor theft charge.
Mohamud’s sister is currently a college student. His brother, Aden, left the United States to become a fighter with the Nusra Front in May 2013. According to the Justice Department, Aden was subsequently killed while fighting in Syria. The indictment revealed that Mohamud had articulated to a friend his joy regarding his brother’s fatality, and that he was next and expected to “join Aden soon” in death.
Prior instances providing more insight into Mohamud’s support of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups included him posting supportive messages on his Facebook in regards to the fighting in Syria, the Islamic State, and efforts against the Syrian government. In addition, Mohamud contacted his brother Aden in efforts to follow him to Syria and join in the fighting.
According to Shamansky, Mohamud’s defense was in negotiations with prosecutors for a potential plea bargain, but efforts failed as there was no ultimate agreement, resulting in the federal indictment.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times and USA Today was used in this report.