Man Convicted of Aiding Islamic State Found With Box Cutter
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man living at a halfway house while awaiting sentencing on a terror charge was returned to custody in April after a box cutter was found under his bed, according to a court document filed Monday.
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said that because Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf had access to the box cutter, “the safety of any other person or the community is at risk.” Davis ordered Monday that Yusuf would remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal.
Yusuf, 19, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State group.
He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, but was allowed to stay at a halfway house before sentencing and participate in a program designed to give him positive direction and engage him in the community, with hopes of eventually reintegrating him into society.
Yusuf was sent back into custody in April for violating halfway house rules, but the alleged violation wasn’t disclosed until Monday.
Davis’ order says halfway house staff found the box cutter under Yusuf’s bed during a random search of the room he shared with three other males.
Assistant Federal Defender Manny Atwal, Yusuf’s attorney, said her client “adamantly denies knowledge of that box cutter.” She added that prior to this, there had been no violations at the halfway house and Yusuf was considered a model resident.
Atwal said she respects the judge’s findings, but hopes to re-examine the issue.
Authorities say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants. Authorities have confirmed at least one Minnesotan has died there. In addition, at least 22 young Somali men have traveled from Minnesota to Somalia since 2007 to join the terrorist group al-Shabab.
During his plea hearing, Yusuf admitted that he attended meetings in Minnesota in March and April of 2014 in which participants discussed fighting with militants in Syria. Court documents show Yusuf, who was in high school at the time, applied for an expedited passport shortly after he turned 18.
FBI agents stopped Yusuf at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on May 28, 2014, and he was arrested six months later.
Yusuf told the court in February that he planned to meet another man, Abdi Nur, in Istanbul, Turkey, and that the two of them planned to travel to Syria together. Nur, who is also charged in the case, is believed to be fighting with militants in Syria.