From the mixed-up files of Mr. Abdirizak M. Warsame

I took a look at the Somali Minnesotans charged with seeking to join ISIS in the December 7 Weekly Standard article “The threat from ‘Minnesota men.'” Four of the ten have pleaded guilty to terrorism charges before Judge Michael Davis, including Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame. Last week Judge Davis adopted an experimental sentencing program to apply to these four cases. In the new issue of the Weekly Standard I focus on the case of ringleader Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame in the article “Judging the ‘Minnesota men.'”

We haven’t heard much about Warsame’s case, but it warrants close attention. Warsame worked on the tarmac at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for eight or nine months, until August 2014, and aspired to blow airplanes out of the sky with rocket-propelled grenades. In the article, I take a look at the plea hearing before Judge Davis last month:

The evidence against Warsame led him to plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Entering his plea on February 11, Warsame testified that he came from a “very religious” household. He acknowledged that he himself is very religious. He noted that he started talking about joining ISIS with his friends in the early months of 2014 (while he was working at the airport, though this went unmentioned at the hearing). “[I]‌t was a time to not only talk,” Warsame testified, “but to put it into some action and do that.” Listening to videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, he “started learning about, you know, Islam and started learning about the history of Islam.” He was affiliated with an unidentified local mosque where he studied the Koran and received additional teaching “pretty much the same” as Awlaki’s lectures on YouTube. Inspired to join ISIS, he sought to get in on the combat and beheadings he saw online with the object of restoring the caliphate. Then, “Islam would take over the world and, you know, Muslims would no longer be oppressed all around the world.”

At this point, Judge Michael Davis asked Warsame why he hadn’t joined the armed forces of the United States. You can probably guess the answer: “Because I didn’t think the United States military went by Islam.”

Interested readers can check out the whole thing here.