Feds charge Minnesota man who they say trained with ISIS and threatened violence against New York

Feb 16, 2024, 3:40 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A naturalized U.S. citizen who rapped about flying to “shoot New York up” after training with ISIS in his native Somalia has been charged with supporting a terrorist organization, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Harafa Hussein Abdi, 41, of Minneapolis was arrested recently in East Africa and taken to the United States this week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York. He was ordered held following an initial appearance in federal court in Manhattan on Friday.

Abdi moved from Minnesota to Somalia in 2015 and joined a group of ISIS fighters at a training camp, prosecutors said in a newly unsealed criminal complaint. Over the next two years, in addition to receiving weapons training, Abdi worked in the group’s media wing, making and appearing in a recruiting video distributed by a pro-ISIS outlet, the filing said.

The complaint quotes lyrics from a 2017 audio clip in which Abdi allegedly raps about inflicting violence in New York City while automatic gunfire and an explosion are heard in the background: “We going to carry on jihad; fly through America on our way to shoot New York up. They trying to shut this thing. We ain’t going. We going to come blow New York up.”

Abdi left the camp in 2017 after clashing with the ISIS group’s leadership, which had him jailed, the complaint said. He eventually escaped and traveled to Hargeisa, Somalia, where he was arrested.

“Mr. Abdi left his country to join ISIS, trained as a fighter, and actively aided the group’s propaganda efforts to spread its vile ideology,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in a news release.

It was unclear whether Abdi was represented by an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Abdi was born in Somalia in 1982, entered the United States in 1999 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006, authorities said.

He is charged with conspiring to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and conspiring to receive and receiving military-type training from a terrorist organization. The most serious charges carry a potential prison term of 20 years.

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Feds charge Minnesota man who they say trained with ISIS and threatened violence against New York