A federal indictment released last week accuses 23-year-old Abdelhamid Al-Madioum of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, of providing material support to ISIS.
Al-Madioum was captured and detained in March 2019 by the Syrian Democratic Forces and recently transferred to FBI custody. He has now been returned to Minnesota and made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
According to a law enforcement affidavit referenced in the charges, Al-Madioum (a native of Morocco and a naturalized U.S. citizen) traveled from St. Louis Park to Casablanca, Morocco, to visit extended family in June 2015.
One morning during the trip, Al-Madioum disappeared from his family’s residence and traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly “without his family’s knowledge.”
“From Turkey, Al-Madioum traveled to Iraq and Syria, where he joined ISIS. At the time of his travel from the U.S. in June of 2015, Al-Madioum was on summer break from a local community college where he was both a full-time student studying computer science and an employee working part-time in the college’s Information Technology department,” states the affidavit.
The author of the affidavit, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Officer Timothy Gregg, said he is aware of numerous cases in which prospective ISIS fighters traveled through Istanbul to gain entry to Syria.
“You affiant is aware that ISIS recruiters have told recruits to travel to Turkey where they would be met and guided into Syria,” the affidavit says.
The FBI conducted a “consensual search” of Al-Madioum’s family home in August 2015 and discovered notes in his bedroom containing evidence of his intent to join ISIS.
“The notes also included a sketch of an image that appears on the ISIS flag. Next to this image, Al-Madioum wrote the Arabic word for ‘allegiance,’” Gregg writes in the affidavit.
The notes also contained information on how to unfreeze his bank accounts and prove his identity over the phone, a flow chart depicting his plan to route money through alternate accounts, and a “rehearsed back-stop story for his entrance into Turkey in case he was questioned by border officials.”
While in Raqqa, Syria, Al-Madioum apparently married a widow of a deceased ISIS fighter and had a child with her, which Gregg said is a common practice for ISIS members.
At one point Al-Madioum was assigned to the Tariq Bin Ziyad Battalion, a division of ISIS that was responsible for “training and preparing foreign fighters to conduct suicide attacks in European countries.”
Other ISIS documents obtained by the U.S. Department of Defense describe Al-Madioum as a “soldier” assigned to the Tariq Bin Ziyad Battalion of the Abu Mutaz al-Qurashi Division of ISIS. After his capture, Al-Madioum told agents that he was injured in an air strike and lost one of his arms.
Coincidentally, Al-Madioum was interviewed by CBS in a Syrian prison in 2019 and said he believes he deserves to be forgiven. He claimed that he joined ISIS because he wanted to become a doctor and “help people.”
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.