The FBI has foiled a possible terrorist plan hatched by an Ohio man who planned to go to Syria and train with the al-Nusra Front and then return to the U.S. and carry out an attack on American soil.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 26, has been described as an aimless young man who dropped out of high school and worked intermittent jobs.
His sinister goal, after training, was to “kill U.S.-based troops or government employees,” according to court documents.
In April 2014, Mohamud worked with individuals aligned with al-Nusra who eventually helped get him into Syria.
Once in Syria, he trained with al-Nusra on weapons, combat tactics, and general fitness. He also began researching potential plots for when he returned to the United States. Mohamud gave money to someone affiliated with al-Nusra to give to his brother. Two moths later his brother was killed fighting in Syria and Mohamud returned to the United States and began attempting to recruit like-minded individuals and gather weapons.
“One of the greatest threats is when a person who has been trained by an overseas terror group comes back to the United States,” said Special Agent Stephen Flowers, who investigated the case as part of the FBI Cincinnati’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “He aligned himself with a group that presents a great risk to us domestically.”
Investigators from the FBI Cincinnati’s Joint Terrorism Task Force knew that he kept in touch with al-Nusra-aligned individuals, even after his return to Ohio. In an interview with the FBI, he lied and said he had never gone to Syria.
Last year, Mohamud pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization and to making false statements to the FBI; in January, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
“A case like this is the reason I joined the FBI—to protect Americans so they can live their lives safely,” said Special Agent Ingrid Schmidt, who also worked on the investigation. “Knowing that somebody who wanted to do harm to the U.S. is off the streets and can no longer do those things … it feels good to play a role in the bigger mission of the FBI.”