A St. Louis Park, Minn., man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, 24, is due to be sentenced May 26 on a single count of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Via Zoom from the Sherburne County Jail, Al-Madioum told U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery how he slipped away from a family trip to Morocco in 2015, bought a plane ticket to Istanbul, and crossed the border from Turkey to Syria with members of ISIS.
After entering Syria, Al-Madioum went to Mosul, Iraq, where he was officially enrolled in the terrorist organization, began receiving military training, and was assigned to a "battalion."
Al-Madioum said he was a soldier for ISIS until he lost an arm and could no longer fight, adding that he lied to journalists during prison interviews when he said he was never a fighter.
He surrendered to the Syrian Defense Forces near Baghouz, Syria in 2019. He was imprisoned in Syria until the FBI picked him up.
Al-Madioum was born in Morocco and immigrated to the U.S. as a child before he was naturalized as an American citizen. He attended Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., for a short time.
According to court documents, Al-Madioum traveled to Morocco for a two-month vacation to visit relatives. On July 7, 2015, he skipped dinner saying he wasn’t feeling well and was gone the next day.
The FBI searched Al-Madioum's home and found notes indicating his plans to travel to Syria. They included alternative travel plans as well as a fabricated backstory in case he was stopped.
Nine Minnesota men were sentenced in 2016 for attempting to join ISIS. Their sentences varied. But a judge sent Guled Omar, the group’s ringleader, to federal prison for 35 years.
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