A Minneapolis man who was charged earlier this month with lying to the FBI about a planned trip to the Middle East has now been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The indictment against Hamza Ahmed, 19, was handed down Thursday by a federal grand jury in Minneapolis.
Ahmed was pulled off an airplane by FBI agents at JFK Airport in New York last November, ending a bid to fly to Turkey and then join Islamic terrorist groups in Syria, according to federal charges. In subsequent questioning he gave misleading answers, according to federal authorities, and was charged Feb. 5 with lying to the FBI.
At a Feb. 9 detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Steven Rau ordered that Ahmed remain in custody because a review of his Twitter account revealed that he had made terroristic threats and suggested that he was willing to make himself a martyr.
During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said Ahmed had waited since last March for the “right moment” to attempt his departure for the Middle East. “He was a patient young man prepared to die for a cause,” Winter said, arguing that Ahmed should not be released to the custody of his parents. “He repeatedly lied to the FBI.”
Ahmed’s public defender, JaneAnne Murray, told Rau that her client was merely expressing “hubris” on his social media accounts.
But Rau was not convinced.
“The tweets that you issued were beyond hubris, they were beyond youth,” Rau told Ahmed. “They were threats.”
Federal authorities say Ahmed, who was enrolled as a nursing student at Minneapolis Community & Technical College, arranged the travel attempt with three other men from the Twin Cities. They traveled by bus to New York to avoid being stopped at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, authorities say.
After being stopped at JFK, Ahmed told FBI agents he was flying alone and that he didn’t know one of the companions, identified as “M.F.,” according to an affidavit filed with the case. But videotape showed them boarding the bus together at the Minneapolis Greyhound station and then interacting at the New York airport, documents show.
Ahmed’s companions are not in custody and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis has declined to comment on whether they will face charges.