“Minnesota man” on 60 minutes

Abdirizak Warsame was the elected leader of the group of “Minnesota men” who sought to join ISIS until the FBI interrupted their plans in 2015. The government charged Warsame and others with conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization and with conspiracy to commit murder overseas.

When the FBI showed Warsame the mountain of evidence it had compiled against him and his friends, he agreed to plead guilty and cooperate at trial. Three of his friends went to trial; six pleaded guilty. (One is believed to have been killed in Syria. Another who was charged after trial is believed to be in Syria.) All nine “Minnesota men” who pleaded guilty before trial or were found guilty at trial are set for sentencing by Judge Michael Davis on November 14, 15 and 16.

In advance of their sentencing next month, two of the nine have made media appearances. Adnan Farah appeared for an interview with KSTP 5 that is covered in two segments, here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Last night 60 Minutes broadcast a segment that featured excerpts of an interview with Warsame. Scott Pelley promoted the segment in a preview on CBS News (video below). The text of the 60 Minutes segment and other clips are posted under the heading “In God’s name.” For “God,” incidentally, read “Allah.”

60 Minutes gives us the case against the “Minnesota men” through a glass darkly. What happened here? It’s not exactly clear.

As I saw it at trial, growing up Muslim, receiving religious education, and attending local mosques—the Al-Farooq Youth and Family Center in Bloomington was mentioned frequently—the young men appear to have needed little more than the videos supplied by ISIS to recruit them.

The ISIS videos figured prominently at trial. The government played undercover recordings of the “Minnesota men” watching a few of them and played some for the jury. The “Minnesota men” were thrilled by the ISIS videos.

American culture has left many citizens with a vacuum of belief. For the “Minnesota men,” Islam filled it. The “Minnesota men” could have succumbed to drugs or alcohol in a pattern that has devastated the lives of so many American families. In this case, however, it was Islam that intoxicated them.

Judge Davis himself took up this point with Warsame in the course of his testimony as a cooperating witness. It was easily one of the most dramatic moments at trial

“You understood that if you committed jihad you would die,” the judge observed. “What attracted you to that?”

“The reward you would get and the fact that this life is temporary,” Warsame said. “If you were to go sacrifice yourself and go fight in jihad, the reward would be bigger. You’d save your family and save yourself.”

United States Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger appears in the 60 Minutes segment, providing the obligatory condemnation of “Islamophobia.” I responded to Luger on this point in the Star Tribune column “Islam and Minnesota: Can we hear some straight talk for a change?”

I covered the case against the “Minnesota men” in three Weekly Standard articles: “The threat from ‘Minnesota men,'” “Judging the ‘Minnesota men” and “‘Minnesota men’ on trial.”

I touched on the pathetic national coverage of the case in the City Journal column “ISIS in the Twin Cities.” The 60 Minutes segment fits right in with the point I sought to make in the City Journal column.

NOTE: The Star Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor provides a brief look at a manuscript by Warsame in “Before ’60 Minutes’ interview, ISIL defendant Abdirizak Warsame detailed his story in unfinished book.”