WASHINGTON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - U.S. federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged two Minnesota men with supporting Islamic State, the militant group that has captured swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq and carried out gruesome executions of civilians and foreigners.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis alleged in a criminal complaint that Abdi Nur, 20, and Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, had engaged in a conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State, and that Nur had actually provided such support. Both men are U.S. citizens of Somali ancestry.
Yusuf was scheduled to make an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate judge on Tuesday. But court documents said that Nur left the United States on a flight to Istanbul, Turkey on May 29, and had not returned.
U.S. authorities for years have been concerned about the number of young Somali-Americans traveling from the Minneapolis area, which hosts a large community of Somali expatriates, to join al Shabaab, a violent Al Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia.
Last summer, FBI officials said they had begun tracking a trickle of Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area to Syria in general and to Islamic State-held areas in particular.
The criminal complaint said that Nur was a Facebook “friend” of Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, a man also known as Miski who was indicted in Minneapolis in 2009 on charges of being involved with Al Shabaab. The complaint said Hassan remained a fugitive.
It said Yusuf, who came to the attention of the FBI after a tipoff from authorities at a passport office, was an “associate” of a person identified only as “H.M.”, a former Minnesota resident now believed to be fighting in Syria.
FBI Director James Comey said this month his agency was tracking close to 150 Americans it believe had traveled to Syria. A federal official said authorities believe around a dozen Americans were fighting there with the Islamic State. (Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by David Storey and Cynthia Osterman)