American man, 21, convicted of trying to join ISIS to be released
Abdullah Yusuf, 21, who was convicted of trying to join ISIS, was granted supervised release. (Sherburne County)
A man convicted of attempting to join ISIS was granted supervised release from a Minnesota halfway house Thursday -- fewer than three years since he tried boarding a jet to meet up with the Islamic terror group in Syria.
Abdullah Yusuf, 21, has been held at the federal halfway house since November 2016.
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Yusuf was among nine men who were arrested in a sweeping FBI probe of ISIS recruitment in Minnesota in 2014 and 2015. He’s one of the few Americans to be allowed back into society after trying to join the terror group, the Star Tribune reported.
“We’re just very glad to meet again our son,” Yusuf’s father, Sadiik Yusuf told reporters after the Thursday hearing. “We will be ready to help him.”
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Yusuf, who cooperated with federal authorities during the investigation, was sentenced last year to time served after spending nearly two years in detention. He then stayed at the halfway house until Thursday's release.
As part of his sentence, Yusuf will remain under intense federal supervision for 20 years. Additionally, he's barred from using social media or accessing materials related to extremism.
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His Internet use will be monitored and his movements will be tracked by GPS for at least a year, officials said.
Eric Hermes, Yusuf’s probation officer, praised his client during the hearing, saying he had become a role model for other residents.
“He continues to set goals for himself as he moves forward,” Hermes told the court.
Yusuf, soon after turning 18, was arrested on May 28, 2014 when he tried to board a plane from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Istanbul, Turkey. The FBI was tipped off by passport officials and six months later he was charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terror group.
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His friend, Abdi Nur, was able to avoid FBI detection and boarded a plane out of the country the day after Yusuf’s arrest. Nur is believed to have died after joining ISIS.
Abdirizak Warsame, the only other Minnesotan to cooperate with authorities in the investigation, is scheduled to be released from an Illinois federal prison in March 2018. Four others, who pleaded guilty, received 10-year prison terms last year while three others, who fought the federal charges, lost at trial and could remain behind bars for 35 years.
The Star Tribune reported when Yusuf’s parents left the courtroom on Thursday, they embraced the same FBI agents who arrested their son. They said they believe the agents saved Yusuf’s life by arresting him before he left the country.