An immigrant family living in Minnesota went on vacation to Morocco to visit relatives in 2015, but their 18-year-old son used the trip as a launching pad to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Newly unsealed court filings are the first disclosure of the case, describing how Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, a naturalized U.S. citizen who studied engineering at Normandale Community College from June 2014 to May 2015, and also worked in the college’s IT department, abandoned his family at the beginning of a two-month vacation, secretly purchasing a plane ticket to Istanbul and joining the ISIS terror network.
An exclusive report by Minnesota’s Star Tribune notes that this new disclosure confirms what federal authorities have been quietly saying for months: The investigation of terrorist recruiting in Minnesota is far from finished.
In addition to Al-Madioum’s case, the Star Tribune has discovered at least five other open investigations into similar cases in Minnesota. This comes after the high-profile case of nine other refugees in Minnesota who were prosecuted for ISIS activities and sought to join the terror network.
Al-Madioum went with his family to visit relatives in Morocco in June 2015. Family members noticed he was on his cell phone more than usual and skipped a family dinner on July 7, telling them he wasn’t feeling well. They told investigators he still prayed later that evening and visited with the family before going to bed at 3 a.m. The next morning, he was gone, along with his cell phone, passport, and the home’s front door key.
After searching hospitals and police stations, and trying to reach their son by text and social media, the family sought help from the U.S. consulate. It was finally discovered that the missing 18-year-old had secretly booked a flight to Istanbul, Turkey which had departed just hours after they last saw him. The family returned home Aug. 21 without him.
During an FBI search of their home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, three laptops, two hard drives and pages of handwritten notes were confiscated from Al-Madioum’s bedroom.
A “flow chart” was found in the notes, showing how Al-Madioum planned to transfer money through alternate accounts, such as PayPal and MoneyGram, should he need to access funds for travel.
Also included in the notes were comments about what he would say should border officials question him as he entered Turkey, how to prove his identity over the phone, and the maximum withdrawal limit from his account.
Al-Madioum did call his family twice in August 2015, four days after they returned from vacation, which reportedly fits the pattern of ISIS recruits being allowed to call home after 30 to 45 days of “basic training,” deemed a “sign of life” call. Al-Madioum claimed to his family that he was working in a hospital in Mosul, Iraq.
So far, Al-Madioum is the eighth person from Minnesota who has been positively identified as leaving to join ISIS. The reported noted that out of all the counterterrorism investigations the FBI has open in all 50 states, Minnesota has the most.
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