Mohamed Roble

Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble is a U.S.-born foreign fighter with ISIS who was part of a pro-ISIS cell in Minnesota. In October 2014, at 18 years old, Roble left the United States and flew back and forth from China and Istanbul before traveling to Syria that December.“Eleventh Twin cities Man Charged with Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” United States Department of Justice, August 24, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/eleventh-twin-cities-man-charged-conspiracy-provide-material-support-isil. Roble funded his travel with the more than $91,000 he was awarded upon turning 18 as a payout from lawsuits related to a collapse of an I-35 bridge in Minnesota, 2007.Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.79286a5a8a75.

According to reports, Roble left the United States less than two months after receiving the I-35 bridge settlement. Roble informed his parents that he would be attending a study program in China.Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, August 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. Roble left China and twice traveled to Istanbul, spending a day in Turkey in November 2014 and returned there again in December. Roble never returned to China from this second trip. According to authorities, Roble travelled back and forth across the border from Turkey to Syria numerous times between December 2014 and May 2015.<Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, August 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. Roble was scheduled to return to the United States in June 2015, but he never did.“AP: Bridge collapse survivor linked to ISIS in Syria,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-link-minnesota-man-survivor-minneapolis-bridge-collapse-ap/.

Roble made numerous withdrawals from his bank account while in Turkey, totaling approximately $47,000.Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, August 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. According to the testimony of Guled Ali Omar, the alleged ringleader of a Minnesotan cell, Roble brought an additional $20,000 with him when he traveled to the region.Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.79286a5a8a75. Roble allegedly used the money to support himself and other members of ISIS, purchasing vehicles and funding the weddings of his compatriots.Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, august 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. Roble is also reported to have used the money to purchase sporting equipment, clothing, and electronics during his frequent border crossings into Turkey.Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.3c0b1d082d7b. According to Omar, Roble was generous with his money upon reaching Syria, handing it out “like candy.”Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.3c0b1d082d7b.

Roble, a suspected member of the pro-ISIS cell in Minnesota, was one of only two pro-ISIS members from the cell known to have made it to Syria.Erik Ortiz, “Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Survivor Mohamed Roble Charged With Joining ISIS,” NBC News, August 25, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/minneapolis-bridge-collapse-survivor-mohamed-roble-charged-joining-isis-n637636. The other member of the cell who traveled to Syria was Roble’s uncle, Abdiwali Nur.“Minnesota bridge collapse survivor accused of trying to join Islamic State after getting settlement,” Chicago Tribune, August 24, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-minnesota-bridge-collapse-survivor-islamic-state-20160824-story.html. One month after Roble left the country, four of his compatriots were caught at the airport attempting to depart.Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, August 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. The list of accused pro-ISIS members grew to nine, all supposedly inspired by Nur, who was the first to travel to Syria, reportedly joining up with ISIS in May 2014.Mukhtar Ibrahim and Laura Yuen, “Informant’s role emerges as key in counterterror sweep,” MPR News, April 20, 2015, http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04/20/counterterror-informant. Roble’s name surfaced as a co-conspirator of the Minnesotan defendants during their trial of three other members.Erik Ortiz, “Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Survivor Mohamed Roble Charged With Joining ISIS,” NBC News, August 25, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/minneapolis-bridge-collapse-survivor-mohamed-roble-charged-joining-isis-n637636. One co-conspirator, Abdirizak Warsame, claimed to have seen photographs of Roble in a desert setting, at times holding either an assault rifle of the black flag of ISIS.“United States of America v. Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble: Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, August 24, 2016, https://cchs.gwu.edu/sites/cchs.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Roble%20Criminal%20Complaint%2C%20Signed%20Affidavit.pdf.

Some of the Minnesotan defendants suggested under testimony that they were aware of Roble’s payout from the I-35 bridge incident, and admitted that they had asked Roble to help fund their own trips to Syria.Jennifer Mayerle, “I-35W Bridge Collapse Survivor Linked To ISIS,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/05/27/bridge-collapse-survivor-islamic-state/. Six defendants in the conspiracy pled guilty and did not go to trial, receiving reduced sentences.Eleventh Twin Cities Man Charged with Conspiracy to rovide Material Support to ISIL,” United States Department of Justice, August 24, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/eleventh-twin-cities-man-charged-conspiracy-provide-material-support-isil. Members of the cell included Omar, Nur, Warsame, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, Hanad Mustafe Musse, Adnan Farah, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, Abdullahi Yusuf, and Hamza Naj Ahmed.

Roble’s radicalization process appears to date back to a traumatic incident in 2007. On August 1, 2007, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi river in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour.Stephen Montemayor, “I-35 bridge collapse survivor becomes 11th Twin Cities man charged with supporting ISIL,” Star Tribune, August 25, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/i-35-bridge-collapse-survivor-becomes-11th-twin-cities-man-charged-with-supporting-isil/391229031/. Roble was a passenger on a school bus that was on the bridge when it collapsed, suffering headaches, arm, neck and back pain, nightmares, and post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident.Jennifer Mayerle, “I-35W Bridge Collapse Survivor Linked To ISIS,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/05/27/bridge-collapse-survivor-islamic-state/. Following the incident, Roble’s therapist reported that he seemed traumatized and that Roble held the “spiritual belief that God had saved him for a purpose.”Jennifer Mayerle, “I-35W Bridge Collapse Survivor Linked To ISIS,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/05/27/bridge-collapse-survivor-islamic-state/. According to reports, Roble considered himself jinxed after the incident, and did not continue the suggested counseling sessions.“AP: Bridge collapse survivor linked to ISIS in Syria,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-link-minnesota-man-survivor-minneapolis-bridge-collapse-ap/.

Roble’s parents filed a lawsuit against the state of Minnesota, as well as the contractors involved in building and maintaining the bridge.Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.79286a5a8a75. Because the collapse was due to design error, the state court ruled in Roble’s favor in 2009, deciding to award Roble a lump sum payment upon his 18th birthday.Mark Berman, “FBI says Minnesota man who survived 2007 bridge collapse got a settlement and used it to join ISIS,” Washington Post, August 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/25/fbi-says-minnesota-man-who-survived-2007-bridge-collapse-got-a-settlement-and-used-it-to-join-isis/?utm_term=.79286a5a8a75. Roble turned 18 years old on August 19, 2014, receiving $65,431.22 from the State of Minnesota, as well as payouts from two companies that worked on the bridge: $11,167.00 from a contracting firm, and $15,056.00 from a consulting firm.“United States of America v. Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble: Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, August 24, 2016, https://cchs.gwu.edu/sites/cchs.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Roble%20Criminal%20Complaint%2C%20Signed%20Affidavit.pdf.

On August 24, 2016, Roble was charged in absentia with providing and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.“United States of America v. Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble: Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, August 24, 2016, https://cchs.gwu.edu/sites/cchs.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Roble%20Criminal%20Complaint%2C%20Signed%20Affidavit.pdf. Roble is the eleventh member of the pro-ISIS Minnesotan cell to be formally charged by the U.S. government.Abigail Abrams, “Man Who Survived Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Charged With Joining ISIS,” Time Magazine, August 25, 2016, http://time.com/4466076/minnesota-man-charged-isis/. According to the FBI as of August 2016, Roble was believed to be living in Syria with his uncle Nur.“AP: Bridge collapse survivor linked to ISIS in Syria,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-link-minnesota-man-survivor-minneapolis-bridge-collapse-ap/;
Ricky Campbell, “Mohamed Amiin Ali Roble: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, August 25, 2016, http://heavy.com/news/2016/08/mohamed-amiin-ali-roble-minnesota-isis-i35-bridge-collapse-terrorist-fbi-isil-islamic-state/.
Although the Minnesotan cell is believed to have conspired in person, the group has also used social media and other online platforms to communicate particularly with Nur and Roble, who used Skype to communicate with other members of the cell.Jennifer Mayerle, “I-35W Bridge Collapse Survivor Linked To ISIS,” CBS News, May 27, 2016, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/05/27/bridge-collapse-survivor-islamic-state/.

Return to Full Database

Take action:

Help Counter Extremism

Stay updated on the latest

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

View Archive

CEP on Twitter