Abdullahi Yusuf, the Twin Cities man who pleaded guilty to plotting to support the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and later turned state’s witness, was kicked out of a halfway house and imprisoned earlier this year after authorities allegedly found a box cutter stashed under his bed, it was revealed Monday.
Yusuf, 19 and a student at Inver Hills Community College, was ordered into custody on April 28, five days after officials at the St. Paul halfway house found the box cutter during a random security check, in a room he shared with three other men, according to court filings released Monday.
Yusuf will remain in jail while he awaits sentencing on the terror charge.
The imprisonment order filed Monday by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis read: “Based on the Defendant’s conviction to a charge that is subject to mandatory detention, together with the fact that he had access to a box cutter while residing at a halfway house, the Court finds that the safety of any other person or the community is at risk if the Defendant remains at the halfway house pending sentencing.”
On Monday, Yusuf’s attorney, Jean Brandl, said her client had been a “model resident” during his three-month stint in the diversionary program, while maintaining that he “adamantly denies any involvement with this box cutter.”
“There is some question as to where the knife was found in the room,” Brandl said, without commenting further.
In February, Yusuf pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, which carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence, and has been cooperating with the government in the prosecution of other local young men suspected of trying to join the terrorist group.
He first came to authorities’ attention last spring after he was stopped from boarding an Istanbul-bound flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by FBI agents, who had been tipped off to his plans by a suspicious passport clerk. Prosecutors say that Yusuf and another man, Abdi Nur, who is thought to be in Syria, planned to join ISIL militants fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Yusuf was later placed in a halfway house and agreed to undergo counseling with the aim of eventually reintegrating him into society, part of a nationally watched experiment in deradicalization.