San Diego, California - Canadian national and former San Diego resident Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi made his initial appearance in federal court Friday following his extradition to the United States on charges that he conspired with others to provide material support to terrorists engaged in violent activities in Syria.
Abdullahi is charged in a two-count indictment with conspiring with several Canadian and U.S. citizens, including Douglas McCain (“Douglas”), the first known American who died fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on or about August 25, 2014. Douglas resided in San Diego prior to departing the United States for Turkey, and eventually, Syria.
“Terrorist networks like ISIS cannot exist without supporters,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Protecting Americans from terrorists is our highest priority, and we will work hard to bring justice to those who provide material support to foreign terror organizations. I would like to thank the prosecutors, the FBI, our Joint Terrorism Task Force and our international law enforcement partners for all that they do to keep our communities safe.”
“Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to those who have traveled, attempted to travel, or support those fighting on behalf of ISIS. The FBI remains steadfast in ensuring they face justice," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner. “I commend San Diego's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and our interagency and international partners for their committed work which resulted in Abdullahi returning to the United States to answer for the crimes he is accused of committing.”
The Abdullahi indictment alleges that from in or about August 2013 through in or about November 2014, Abdullahi conspired with Douglas and other individuals to provide personnel and money to individuals engaged in terrorist activities in Syria, including the killing, kidnapping and maiming of persons. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Abdullahi facilitated the travel of at least three Canadian nationals and two U.S. citizens to Syria to join and fight for ISIS, all of whom were subsequently reportedly killed fighting for ISIS.
As alleged in the indictment, in order to get money to fund travel to and fighting with terrorists in Syria, Abdullahi’s co-conspirators encouraged others to commit crimes against the “kuffar” (an Arabic term meaning infidels or non-believers), such as theft. In furtherance of this material support conspiracy, the indictment alleges that on January 9, 2014, prior to the travel of Douglas and a second American, Abdullahi committed an armed robbery of a jewelry store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in order to finance the travel of Douglas and other members of the conspiracy to Syria. Thereafter, Abdullahi wired and caused others to wire money to other members of the conspiracy in the United States -- including approximately $3,100 to Douglas. The money paid for Douglas and the second individual to travel from the United States to Turkey. They later moved into Syria and engaged in terrorist activities, alongside other co-conspirators, including North Americans with whom Abdullahi maintained ties.
Additionally, members of the conspiracy, including Abdullahi, wired and caused money to be wired to third-party intermediaries in Gaziantep, Turkey (located approximately 40 miles from the Syrian border) for the purpose of supporting members of the conspiracy fighting and engaging in terrorist activity in Syria, including the killing, kidnapping, and maiming of persons.
On March 10, 2017, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California returned a two-count sealed indictment charging Abdullahi with conspiring to provide, and providing, material support to terrorists. On September 15, 2017, pursuant to an extradition request by the United States, Canadian authorities arrested Abdullahi. Abdullahi was detained in Canadian custody without bail, pending extradition. Canadian authorities surrendered Abdullahi to the United States yesterday.
In a related case, Marchello Dsaun McCain, a convicted violent felon and the brother of Douglas, was sentenced in 2018 in federal court to 10 years in prison for his illegal possession of a cache of firearms and body armor and making false statements to federal agents involving international terrorism.
At today’s hearing, prosecutors moved to detain Abdullahi based on risk of flight and danger to the community. A detention hearing will be held on October 29 at 10:45 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Karen S. Crawford.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office wishes to thank the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and our Canadian law enforcement partners, including the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and the Canada Crown Prosecutor’s Office, for their extraordinary work in the process of securing Abdullahi’s extradition and return to the United States to face charges.
DEFENDANT Criminal Case No. 17CR0622-W
Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi Age: 34 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 2339A(a)
Maximum penalty: 15 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Providing Material Support to Terrorists – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 2339A(a)
Maximum penalty: 15 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine.
San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Air Marshal Service
Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations
Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol