The 28-year-old doctor, Muhammad Masood, was apprehended by the FBI at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and charged on one count of providing material support to a terrorist organization.
A Pakistani doctor arrested in Minneapolis this morning, who the FBI says had planned to travel overseas to fight for ISIS, had his original travel plans disrupted last month because of Jordan's travel ban over coronavirus. https://t.co/cY6flWN3t1 pic.twitter.com/esYy2WkL6D
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) March 19, 2020
Masood – who formerly worked as a research coordinator at the esteemed Mayo Clinic based in Rochester, Minnesota – was residing in the US on a work visa, prosecutors say.
Beginning in January, he told several paid FBI informants of his desire to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and pledged allegiance to its leader, under the impression the informants were also members of the infamous terrorist group.
“There is so much I wanted to do here… lon wulf [sic] stuff you know,” the young doctor told one of the informants, according to the FBI, adding: “But I realized I should be on the ground helping brothers, sisters, kids” – apparently referring to Syria, where IS remains active in small pockets.
— U.S. Attorney MN (@DMNnews) March 19, 2020
At one point in the investigation, an informant arranged a video call between Masood and a man he believed was an IS commander based overseas, with the doctor allegedly stating he was ready to join the group as a combat medic.
He would also tell one of the FBI cut-outs that he wanted to “fight on the front line as well as help the wounded brothers” in Syria, Iraq or northern Iran.
The FBI says its interest in Masood was piqued early this year after he posted on social media expressing his intent to join the militant group.
But only after booking a flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles – where he planned to meet with an Islamic State fixer he believed would help him travel to Syria – did the FBI make an arrest, which came on Thursday.
Islamic State – also known by its Arabic acronym ‘Daesh’ – arose from the remnants of Iraq’s Al-Qaeda faction and gained global infamy in 2014 after a wave of ruthless attacks across Iraq and Syria.
At one point, it controlled a swath of land the size of Britain. While the group has since lost its territorial foothold in the Middle East, small cells remain active as the group transitions back to low-level insurgency.
RT with additional input from GVS News Desk.