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Minneapolis man trained by ISIS rapped about leaving Somalia to ‘shoot New York up,’ charges say

A gavel rests on a judge bench. (The Columbus Dispatch/TNS)
February 25, 2024

A Minneapolis man who rapped about returning to the United States to “shoot New York up” after training with ISIS in his native Somalia has been charged with supporting a terrorist organization.

According to court records made public last week, Harafa Hussein Abdi, 41, was charged in U.S. District Court in New York with providing and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and providing and conspiring to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Abdi was recently arrested overseas and transported Thursday to the United States, where he remains in federal custody, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Public court records do not show when Abdi is scheduled for another hearing or whether he has retained an attorney.

“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 of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York added, “While training with ISIS fighters in Somalia, Abdi allegedly carried an AK-47, threatened to attack civilians in New York City, and encouraged others to carry out such attacks.”

According to the complaint:

Abdi moved from Minnesota to Somalia in 2015 and joined a group of ISIS fighters at a training camp in the Puntland region of Somalia. While training, Abdi regularly carried an AK-47 rifle and instructed in how to use it.

Also, Abdi worked in the “media” wing and recorded video for distribution by a pro-ISIS media outlet.

On social media while at the ISIS camp, Abdi described how he had left the United States and joined the “Islamic state.” He also stated that he had made “hijra,” an Arabic term used by ISIS supporters to refer to traveling overseas to join ISIS and engage in jihad. Abdi also sent a photograph of himself carrying an AK-47 assault rifle.

In early 2017, Abdi sent an audio clip of rap lyrics that pledged support for ISIS and described acts of violence including shooting and bombing individuals in New York City.

Abdi sent the clip to at least 20 other social media users and included messages with the audio clip, such as “Fighting back the kuffar who’s at war with Muslims if [that] is not islam then I don’t know wats Islam.”

Abdi left the ISIS camp in 2017 once his relationship with the group’s leadership deteriorated and he was jailed. He escaped from custody and traveled to east Africa, where law enforcement arrested him.

Abdi admitted to the FBI that he joined the training camp, which was affiliated with a known ISIS leader in Somalia. He also identified himself in an ISIS propaganda video that he helped to record at the training camp.


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