According to the complaint, 18-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf aroused authorities' suspicion last April when he applied for an expedited passport in Minneapolis. He claimed that he was traveling to Turkey but couldn't provide details about "his travel itinerary, travel companions, hotel location or the name or address of a friend in Turkey who he claimed to have met recently via Facebook." The passport specialist found this "unusual" and contacted his supervisor who, in turn, alerted the FBI.
On May 5, the same day he obtained his passport, Yusuf opened a Wells Fargo checking account. Even though he had no known sources of income, Yusuf deposited $1,500 into the account later that month. He then bought an Aeroflot airplane ticket to fly from Minneapolis to Istanbul on May 28. The same debit card was used by a former Minnesota resident identified as H.M. to buy an airline ticket on March 9, the complaint said. H.M., who is believed to be fighting in Syria, allegedly exchanged several telephone calls and text messages with Yusuf.
Yusuf's co-defendant Abdi Nur, 20, also obtained an expedited U.S. passport and opened a checking account the same day, depositing $1,540 into it. He then bought an airline ticket to Turkey. Nur left for Turkey on May 29, but did not return to the U.S. on June 16 as scheduled, the complaint said.
Nur later told an undercover agent on social media that he had gone "to the brothers." He added that we "will see each other in afterlife inshallah," and, "You cant come looking for me its to late for that" (sic) and "im not coming back" (sic).
Nur was Facebook "friends" with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, one of dozens of Minneapolis area Somalis who left the U.S. to fight with the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. Hassan was indicted in absentia in 2009 for providing material support to the Somali terrorist group.
"More than 16,000 recruits from over 90 countries traveled to Syria to become foreign terrorist fighters with alarming consequences," Assistant Attorney for National Security General John P. Carlin said in a Justice Department statement announcing the charges Tuesday. "This is a global crisis and we will continue our efforts to prevent Americans from joining the fight and to hold accountable those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations."