Ohio man pleads guilty to joining Al-Qaeda in Syria

Ohio man pleads guilty to joining Al-Qaeda in Syria
A Somali-born resident of Columbus, Ohio, has admitted to training and fighting alongside the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. He also admitted to planning an attack in the US upon his return from Syria.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 25, is a Somali-born naturalized citizen of the US. In 2014, he traveled to Turkey where he crossed the border into Syria, court documents show.

While in Syria, Mohamud received training from the Al-Nusra Front, a terrorist organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda, prosecutors said.

“After returning to the US, Mohamud planned to obtain weapons in order to kill military officers or other government employees or people in uniform. Evidence seized by the FBI indicates that Mohamud researched places in the US to carry out such plans,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

He was arrested in the US in 2015.

Mohamud’s brother also fought with Al-Nusra, and he was killed in Syria, according to US prosecutors.

Two years ago, a federal grand jury charged Mohamud with one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization – namely, the Al-Nusra Front – and one count of making false statements to the FBI involving international terrorism. He pleaded guilty to all charges brought against him.

His trial is scheduled for next month. Providing material support to terrorists as well as to a designated foreign terrorist organization could land Mohamud in prison for 30 years.

Making false statements involving international terrorism carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

The Al-Nusra Front has changed its name several times, and is also known as Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham. It is widely recognized as an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. The group was active in eastern Aleppo before it was ousted from the city by Russian and Syrian forces earlier this year.

Last week, US prosecutors in New York charged a man from the Bronx, Saddam Mohamed Raishani, with attempting to join ISIS (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“As alleged, Saddam Mohamed Raishani, a Bronx man, plotted to travel to Syria to join and train with the terrorist organization ISIS. Having already helped another man make that trip to ISIS’s heartland, Raishani allegedly acted on his own desire to wage violent jihad, planning to leave his family and life in New York City for the battlefields of the Middle East,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said.

Raishani didn’t make it to Syria, and instead was arrested at JFK Airport as he tried to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey.