By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio man traveled to Syria and trained alongside terrorists, then returned to the U.S. with plans to attack a military base or a prison, according to a federal indictment announced Thursday.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a U.S. citizen originally from Somalia, wanted to “kill three or four American soldiers execution style,” according to the indictment. Attacking the prison was part of a backup plan if that didn’t work, the charges said.
The indictment also says Mohamud’s brother, Abdifatah Aden, fought with Jabhat al-Nusrah, a State Department-designated terrorist group, until he was killed in battle in Syria in June 2014.
Mohamud, 23, of Columbus was charged with supporting terrorism, supporting the same terrorist group and making a false statement involving international terrorism when he allegedly lied to an Ohio FBI agent by saying he was in Istanbul when authorities say he was in Syria.
The government charged Mohamud under the laws most commonly used since the Sept. 11 attacks to prosecute terror suspects. He faces up to 38 years in prison if convicted.
Mohamud was arrested in Columbus in February on state terrorism and money laundering counts. Thursday’s charges were expected, and Mohamud will plead not guilty at a Friday arraignment, said his attorney, Sam Shamansky. He said it was too early to talk about the specific charges.
The government didn’t say how it learned of the plot, but the indictment mentions two “unnamed” associates of Mohamud in the U.S. to whom he gave information about his activities, including a video of Mohamud carrying an AK-47.