Report: Minnesota student left to join IS group in 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — A suburban Minneapolis college student left his family while on vacation in Morocco two years ago and joined the Islamic State group in Syria, according to newly unsealed court files.

The case is the first disclosure of someone from Minnesota trying to join the Islamic State since nine Minnesota men were sentenced in federal court last year for plotting unsuccessfully to join the terrorist group. The case is among at least six open investigations of alleged IS support in Minnesota from 2015 to as recently as late last year, the Star Tribune reported.

The newspaper reviewed newly unsealed court documents in which federal agents say Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, then age 18, apparently booked a flight from Morocco to Turkey, from which many aspiring IS militants cross into Syria.

Al-Madioum, a naturalized U.S. citizen, studied engineering at Normandale Community College in Bloomington from June 2014 to May 2015. He was to spend two months with his family visiting relatives in Morocco in 2015. His parents told investigators he skipped dinner on July 7 and was gone the next day, along with his cellphone and passport. He left other possessions behind.

Al-Madioum's family told the FBI that he called them shortly after they returned to the U.S. and said he was working in a hospital in Mosul, Iraq, which was then under the IS control. But the paper reports that a member of the FBI's joint terrorism task force wrote that new recruits commonly misinform loved ones about their actual locations and activities so as not to cause distress.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis would not comment. A woman and man who answered the phone at the family's new address declined to comment to the newspaper.

Al-Madioum is the eighth Minnesotan suspected of leaving his family behind to join IS.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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