What do you do with a teenager who pleaded guilty to providing material support to Islamic State? One judge’s answer is to groom him as a mentor to other teens.
Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf of Minnesota, 18, was arrested by FBI agents at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport while carrying an expedited passport to fly to Turkey, The Associate Press reported.
In November, he was charged with conspiring to support Islamic State, and rather than going to jail, he’s been sent to a halfway house.
Yusuf pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday and, inexplicably, was freed on bond by U.S. District Chief Judge Michael Davis.
While staying at the halfway house, he will be “allowed to work with a group that promotes civic involvement as a way to keep youth engaged, with hopes of keeping him on a positive track and reintegrating him into society,” the AP reported, adding that he will continue “working with coaches, and hopes to eventually continue his college studies.”
Minnestota Public Radio suggested Yusuf “might be an ideal test case” for a program to rehabilitate young, prospective jihadis.
John Horgan, a professor at University of Massachusetts in Lowell, told MPR that “most people would probably say, ‘Just lock them up. Why are we even thinking of reintegration?’ And I think that’s why this focus on this case in Minneapolis is electric. We’re all very curious to know what happens.”
“If Davis approves the pre-trial plan, Yusuf might be able to one day re-enroll in college, coach basketball and mentor other teens,” MPR reported. “He’d also join a peer group of young Somali-Americans who can talk about the challenges of straddling two cultures.”
Oh, good. That’s exactly what young Somali kids need. A jihadi mentor.
“Mr. Yusuf is closer to being a naive young person than someone who is already engaged in something that might be a threat to our community or people halfway around the world,” said Mary McKinley, who is in charge of Heartland Democracy, the group creating a plan to reintegrate Yusef.
Horgan told MPR that the U.S. government should attempt to work with “repentant” would-be terrorists who have “become disillusioned” with jihadism and could potentially steer others away from joining the ranks of groups like Islamic Stare and al-Qaida.
But what evidence does anyone have the Yusuf is “repentant” or “disillusioned”?
When did he have his epiphany? Standing in line at the airport waiting for a flight to join the jihadists?
He was caught and, like many convicts, could be saying whatever he needs to get leniency.
MPR calked Davis’ decision “a very big bet on Yusuf.”
Unfortunately, we may be gambling with American lives.
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