FBI: Virus Canceled His Flight, But He Had Plan B to Get to ISIS

Muhammad Masood of Pakistan was arrested Thursday in Minneapolis
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2020 7:56 AM CDT
FBI: His Flight Axed, Man Was to Take Cargo Ship to Join ISIS
Delta Airlines planes sit parked near a hangar at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Delta hub Monday, March 16, 2020.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

When the coronavirus canceled Muhammad Masood's flight from Chicago to Jordan, authorities say he made a plan B: fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, and then board a cargo ship to get to the Middle East. But the 28-year-old Pakistani doctor was arrested before getting on the plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, with the FBI alleging he was attempting to make his way to Syria to join up with ISIS. Masood had been in the US for two years on a work visa and had previously worked as a medical coordinator for the Mayo Clinic, reports the Star Tribune. The New York Times reports he drew law enforcement's notice in January after allegedly seeking help with "hijrah"—a term meaning migration that's used by ISIS supporters—on an encrypted social media platform.

Paid informants then interacted with him on that platform, with the AP quoting him as allegedly writing, "there is so much I wanted to do here .. .lon wulf stuff you know ... but I realized I should be on the ground helping brothers sisters kids." An in-person meeting took place on Feb. 19. The FBI says Massod said he wanted "to fight on the front line as well as help the wounded brothers." He also allegedly expressed frustration with having to smile at strangers while in the US "just to not make them (suspicious.) … I cannot tolerate it anymore." Masood was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and faces up to 20 years in prison. He'll next be in court on Tuesday, with the suspended federal court system opening specifically for this case. (More ISIS stories.)

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