A 20-year-old Eagan man is expected to plead guilty in federal court Thursday in connection with an alleged plot by a group of Somali-American friends to leave the Twin Cities and fight for ISIL last year.
Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, accused of being a leader in the group, would become the fourth man to plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terror group.
Warsame’s plea is expected the same day that five other co-defendants will appear before U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, planning to argue, among other things, that they should receive “combatant immunity” against murder conspiracy charges the government added late last year.
Warsame’s attorney, Robert Sicoli, confirmed plans to enter a guilty plea but said Monday that he couldn’t discuss the terms of the agreement until it is entered in court.
“We’ve been in discussions with the government,” Sicoli said. “We’ve provided them with information and they’ve provided us with information.”
Warsame was charged in December with conspiracy to provide support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), becoming the 10th Somali-American from Minnesota charged in the alleged plot.
According to a federal complaint, Warsame was “emir,” or leader, of the group that allegedly began plotting to leave the country in April 2014. He is accused of encouraging them to travel to Syria, putting them in contact with ISIL and providing $200 to help one man get an expedited passport.
The remaining five co-defendants — Hamza Ahmed, brothers Adnan and Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar — are scheduled to go to trial May 9.
Two other defendants caught up in the federal probe, Zacharia Abdurahman and Hanad Musse, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Another, Abdullahi Yusuf, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February and agreed to testify for the government. Meanwhile, Abdi Nur, charged with Yusuf, successfully traveled to Syria in 2014.
The timing of Warsame’s arrest, eight months after the first round of charges in the case, puzzled some in the Somali-American community.
“That is the question the community has been asking,” said Sadik Warfa, a community leader. “This case has had a lot of twists and turns. Our community is a law-abiding community and the safety of this country is very important to [us].”
Warsame worked as a baggage handler at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for roughly five months in 2014, and authorities say he told an informant in April 2015 that he had the ability to build homemade rockets that could shoot down airplanes.
But Sicoli late last year argued that if Warsame possessed that ability, the government would have taken him off the streets sooner.
Sicoli unsuccessfully moved for Warsame to be released to live with his mother in Eagan under electronic monitoring. He said Warsame has relatives who have assisted the government in outreach efforts to prevent youths from fleeing to fight for terrorist organizations overseas.
Sicoli said Monday that both sides are working on a possible joint resolution on Warsame’s detention.
Meanwhile, Khaalid Adam Abdulkadir, another friend of Warsame, is awaiting a trial scheduled for next month on charges related to tweets he was accused of sending hours after Warsame’s arrest. Abdulkadir, 19, is charged with threatening to kill a federal judge and federal law enforcement officials and of interstate transmission of a threat.
Abdulkadir’s attorney, Christopher Madel, has argued for his release, saying the alleged tweets — which were deleted hours after they were sent — did not threaten a specific judge or agents.