United States Attorney Andrew Birge announced Thursday that Chief United States District Judge Robert J. Jonker sentenced Mohamud Abdikadir Muse, age 25, of Lansing, Michigan to serve 98 months in federal prison for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIS”), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Following his release from prison, Mohamud Muse was ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release. The government sought a sentence of 198 months in prison consistent with the sentence recommended by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
On January 21, 2019, special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Mohamud Muse at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after his brother, Muse Muse, checked in for a flight to the first of a series of destinations on his way to Mogadishu, Somalia, with the goal of joining ISIS. Their relative, Mohamed Haji, also was arrested for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
According to court documents, between December 2018 and January 2019, Muse Muse coordinated with an individual he believed to be a Somali ISIS fighter to wire funds to be used to purchase airline tickets for travel to Mogadishu, Somalia, where he believed he would meet an ISIS representative. All three defendants picked up money to provide Muse Muse the funds to travel to join ISIS, all three defendants pledged allegiance to ISIS in recorded videos, and all three submitted their videos to individuals they believed were associated with ISIS. Additionally, records provided to the Court at sentencing demonstrated that throughout the conspiracy, which began in January 2017, all three defendants participated in numerous conversations during which they discussed traveling overseas to join ISIS and even adopted fighter aliases by which they would be known when fighting for ISIS.
In January 2020, Mohamud Muse admitted that he: (1) agreed with one or more individuals to provide material support or resources (which includes personnel) to ISIS, a foreign terrorist organization; (2) knew that ISIS was a designated foreign terrorist organization or had engaged or engages in terrorist activity or terrorism; and (3) is a U.S. national and that part of the offense occurred in the United States. He further admitted that the individuals he conspired with were his relatives and co-defendants, Muse Muse and Mohamed Haji.
On Tuesday, Muse Muse was sentenced to serve 78 months in prison for his role in the offense. Haji also pled guilty in connection with the plot and awaits sentencing on September 22, 2021.
In sentencing Mohamud Muse to more than eight years in prison for his role in the offense, the Court found that Mohamud Muse was more culpable than co-defendant Muse Muse because the evidence demonstrated that Mohamud Muse was the first of the three defendants to embrace ISIS’s ideology and, as an older brother, helped radicalize Muse Muse’s views and encouraged him to follow and support ISIS. Due to the Court’s disagreement with the Sentencing Guidelines and because Mohamud Muse did not have a prior criminal history, the Court departed downward from the applicable Sentencing Guideline sentence.