When Guled Ali Omar made up his mind to join the Islamic State group, he wasn’t easily deterred, reports the Associated Press. The Minnesota man emptied his bank accounts last May and planned to fly to Syria via San Diego, federal officials say, but his family stopped him. In November, he tried to board a flight in Minneapolis, but was blocked by the FBI. Even while under investigation, Omar and five other men kept trying to go to Syria, coming up with a plot to secure false passports. Omar is among six Minnesota men of Somali descent charged with terrorism offenses in charges unsealed yesterday. They are among the latest Westerners accused of traveling or attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, which has carried out a host of attacks including beheading Americans.
In Alabama on Monday, a spokesman for a Muslim couple said their 20-year-old daughter fled a Birmingham suburb to join militants in Syria after being recruited online. The woman’s whereabouts weren’t immediately clear. Authorities described the Minnesota men as friends in the state’s Somali community who recruited and inspired each other and met secretly to plan their travels. They are charged with conspiracy to provide material support and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. “What is remarkable about this case is that nothing stopped these defendants from pursuing their goal,” said U.S. Attorney Andy Luger. “They never stopped plotting another way to get to Syria to join ISIL.” The Minneapolis area is home to the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the U.S. Since 2007, 22 young Somali men have traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the militant group al-Shabab, which is also listed by the U.S. State Department as fomenting terrorism.