US & Canada

Six US men charged with conspiring to support Islamic State

IS fighters (picture: June 2014) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Islamic State took over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2013

US authorities have arrested and charged six men in the US state of Minnesota with conspiring to support the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

The six men allegedly had plans to travel to Syria where they would join and fight with the group.

Court documents say the men tried to fly from airports in San Diego and New York City, but were stopped before doing so.

Officials say at least one person from Minnesota has died fighting with IS.

Authorities say the six men met secretly to develop their travel plans, which included flying to countries near Syria from airports in the US cities of Minneapolis, San Diego or New York City.

The men, who authorities consider to be friends, did not have plans to carry out an attack in the United States, prosecutors believe.

Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, were arrested in Minneapolis on Sunday.

Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, drove from Minneapolis to San Diego, California, before their arrest.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An explosion rocks the Syrian city of Kobani as IS militants and Syria Kurds battled for control in October

Three of the arrested men had travelled to New York in November with a man who was en route to Syria and has since been indicted on charges of conspiring to support Islamic State.

"They are not confused young men, they were not easily influenced," Minnesota US Attorney Andy Lugar said. "These were focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organisation by any means possible."

Their arrests are part of a months-long investigation into the recruitment of Westerners by IS.

Authorities say that a handful of other Minnesota residents have been successful in their attempts to join IS in the past year.

"We have a terror recruiting problem in Minnesota," Mr Lugar said.

The Minneapolis area is home to the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the US. Since 2007, at least 22 Somali men have travelled oversees to support Islamic State or Al-Shabab, a separate militant group based in Somalia.

The six men range in age from 19 to 21, and are expected to appear in courts in Minnesota and California later on Monday. The men arrested in San Diego are expected to be returned to Minnesota.