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Minnesota terror suspect ordered released to halfway house

The Associated Press//January 29, 2015

Minnesota terror suspect ordered released to halfway house

The Associated Press//January 29, 2015

A Minnesota man accused of trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group will be released to a halfway house while his case is pending, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, will have limited hours outside the halfway house and will be monitored, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said. Davis also directed probation officials to work with a group that promotes civic involvement to see if they could fashion a plan to integrate Yusuf back into the community — perhaps leading to more freedom as time progresses.

“I have to see how he does,” Davis said of Yusuf.

Yusuf is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He was arrested in November, six months after FBI agents stopped him at the Minneapolis airport as he was attempting to leave the United States for Turkey.

Authorities say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria, which borders Turkey, to fight with militants within the last year. Since 2007, at least 22 young Somali men have also traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab.

Prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s pretrial release, saying they are concerned that he is a flight risk and could pose a danger.

Yusuf’s attorneys asked that he be freed and allowed to participate in courses promoting civic involvement through a nonprofit organization called Heartland Democracy.

The idea hasn’t been used before in Minnesota. The defense came up with the proposal after Davis said in December that he’d consider releasing Yusuf if there was a plan for Somali elders and community leaders to help monitor his actions.

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