Two men, one from Minnesota and another from Washington, were arrested and face terror charges after having allegedly supported the terrorist group ISIS, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.
One of the men, Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, 23, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, was charged by indictment with providing material support to ISIS. He was detained overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in March 2019 and recently transferred into FBI custody. He has made his first appearance in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Al-Madioum, a native of Morocco and naturalized U.S. citizen, allegedly provided material support and resources, including personnel—namely himself—and services to ISIS from July 8, 2015, through March 15, 2019, according to an indictment (pdf) and a law enforcement affidavit (pdf).
The affidavit stated that Al-Madioum told FBI agents that he connected with an “ISIS facilitator” through an active Twitter account called “Birds of Paradise” that posted ISIS propaganda. The facilitator then provided him with information on how to travel to Syria and join ISIS.
Al-Madioum admitted that he had fled from his family while they were on holiday in Morocco in 2015 to join ISIS, according to the affidavit.
The other man, Lirim Sylejmani, was charged with having received military training from ISIS and conspiring “to provide and provided material support and resources, including personnel and services, to ISIS in Syria.” The indictment said the charges relate to his activities from November 2015 through February 2019.
Sylejmani, a Kosovo-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was detained overseas by the SDF in 2019 and was recently transferred into FBI custody. He had his indictment and arrest warrant unsealed Wednesday and made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Sylejmani told CBS News in September 2019 that he was unrepentant, does not believe he made the wrong decision, and that he “just wanted to live under Islamic law.” The DOJ noted in its announcement that he “has spoken to a number of media outlets about his time with ISIS.”
“The United States is committed to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join ISIS,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said in a statement.
“The defendant is a U.S. citizen who abandoned the country that welcomed him to join ISIS in Syria,” acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement. “He [Sylejmani] will now be held accountable for his actions in an American courtroom. Our national security prosecutors and law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that those who threaten our country are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to those who have traveled, or attempted to travel, to join ISIS that the FBI remains steadfast in ensuring they face justice,” Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division said in a statement.
Both men’s cases resulted from investigations conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.