American-born Abdullah Yusuf is a convicted would-be foreign fighter for ISIS. He is the child of immigrants from SomaliaPeter Sullivan, Two Minnesota men charged with aiding ISIS,” Hill, November 25, 2014, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/225305-two-minnesota-men-charged-with-aiding-isis. and grew up in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.Peter Sullivan, Two Minnesota men charged with aiding ISIS,” Hill, November 25, 2014, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/225305-two-minnesota-men-charged-with-aiding-isis. On May 28, 2014, Yusuf reportedly sought to travel from Minnesota to Turkey but was intercepted at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by the FBI.Ed Payne, “More Americans volunteering to help ISIS,” CNN, March 5, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/05/us/isis-us-arrests/.
In November of 2014, Yusuf pled guilty at a Minneapolis federal court to one count of conspiracy to provide material assistance to ISIS.“Two Minnesotans Charged with Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” FBI: Minneapolis Division, November 24, 2014, https://www.fbi.gov/minneapolis/press-releases/2014/two-minnesotans-charged-with-conspiracy-to-provide-material-support-to-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-the-levant.
Yusuf was sentenced by a judge to a halfway house, where he followed a strict regimen aimed at reintegrating him into American society. Although 40-odd de-radicalization programs exist worldwide, this experiment was hailed as the inaugural test case in the United States for “turning” a young person under prosecution away from extremist Islamist ideology.Miriam Jordan and Tamara Audi, “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization,’” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-test-case-for-deradicalization-1430944585?alg=y.
As part of the program, Yusuf was introduced to the texts of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and the U.S. Constitution, and participated in courses promoting civic involvement through a nonprofit organization called Heartland Democracy, whose curriculum has been dubbed “Empowering U.”“Minnesota Terror Suspect To Be Released To Halfway House,” CBS Minnesota, January 27, 2015, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/01/27/minnesota-terror-suspect-to-be-released-to-halfway-house/. As part of the curriculum, Yusuf also discussed philosophy with a counselor, fellow Somali-American Ahmed Amin.Miriam Jordan and Tamara Audi, “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization,’” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-test-case-for-deradicalization-1430944585?alg=y. The experiment was cut short, however, after a box cutter was found under Yusuf’s bed. Yusuf was ordered back to jail in April 2015.Miriam Jordan and Tamara Audi, “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization,’” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-test-case-for-deradicalization-1430944585?alg=y; Esme Murphy, “Terror Suspect Released To Halfway House Kept Box Cutter Under Bed,” CBS Minnesota, July 6, 2015, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/07/06/terror-suspect-released-to-halfway-house-kept-box-cutter-under-bed/.
On November 14, 2016, Yusuf—who had spent 21 months in custody and cooperated with authorities—was sentenced to time served with 20 years of supervised release. Yusuf will reportedly be placed in a halfway house, where he will live for up to one year with electronic monitoring.Associated Press, “Cooperation Results in Light Sentences in Islamic State Case,” New York Times, November 14, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/11/14/us/ap-us-islamic-state-americans-minnesota.html?_r=1; “No additional prison time for Minnesota ISIS recruit Abdullahi Yusuf,” Fox 9 News, November 14, 2016, http://www.fox9.com/news/217391737-story. Yusuf apologized to the court, saying that he no longer believed in ISIS’s ideology, and that he was “alive today…because I was stopped at the airport.”“No additional prison time for Minnesota ISIS recruit Abdullahi Yusuf,” Fox 9 News, November 14, 2016, http://www.fox9.com/news/217391737-story.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Insurgent, territory-controlling, religious, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, takfiri
- Would-be foreign fighter
ISIS is a violent jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has declared wilayas (provinces) in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. ISIS has also waged attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Kuwait.