Feds charge 3 Michigan men with supporting ISIS

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Three Michigan men were apprehended at a Grand Rapids airport and have been charged with supporting Islamic State militants.

Three Michigan men were apprehended at a Grand Rapids airport and have been charged with supporting Islamic State militants, including one man allegedly headed overseas to fight with them, federal authorities announced Tuesday. 

Muse Abdikadir Muse, 20, was arrested Monday at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids during security screening for the first flight in a journey to Somalia, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court on the state’s west side.

His older sibling, Mohamud Abdikadir Muse, 23, and brother-in-law, Mohamed Salat Haji, 26, also were apprehended in the terminal for their involvement in the plans, the filing stated.

All three are naturalized U.S. citizens born in Kenya and living in Lansing, the U.S. Department of Justice reported.

The family emerged on the FBI’s radar in early 2016, when the bureau noted Mohamud Muse’s Facebook page “revealed frequent posts of photos, videos, and statements and commentary that were pro-ISIS in nature and what can be described as violent, extremist propaganda,” the complaint said.

After an undercover FBI employee posing as an ISIS recruiter started communicating with him through the account in June 2017, the former Nebraska resident said that he wanted to join ISIS in Syria and “planned to die with a gun in his hand fighting," according to the document.

Federal officials later learned through search warrants that his brother and Haji allegedly had exchanged online messages in which they delighted in ISIS attacks, expressed “support for the killing of non-believers,” and at one point discussed Muse Muse’s “ability to drive in the context of using the vehicle as a weapon for a planned attack,” a special agent wrote.

Last fall, Muse Muse told another undercover FBI employee that he planned to trek to Somalia and sent a video to the FBI employee, pledging his allegiance to ISIS; days later, that operative told him the recording had been presented to the group’s leadership there and accepted, according to the complaint.

Muse Muse soon forwarded similar oaths from his brother and Haji, authorities allege.  Both later told undercover federal authorities they hoped to band with ISIS once Haji saved up and Mohamud Muse's wife gave birth, authorities reported.

After requesting $1,200 from ISIS eventually doled out through Haji, Mohamud Muse and another undercover operative whom he believed planned to accompany him in joining the militants, Muse Muse bought his ticket in early January, according to the complaint. 

Last week, during a shopping trip at Walmart to prepare for the trip, Muse Muse and Haji told the operative “that if they failed in their attempt to join ISIS, they would conduct an attack or martyrdom operation,” investigators said. “During this exchange, (Muse Muse) referenced a terrorism attack in Paris.”

The Muse brothers traveled with Haji to the Grand Rapids airport on Monday. After the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrest, federal agents executed search warrants at the siblings’ home.  

The men have been charged with engaging in a conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. That carries a penalty of up 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, court records show.