VIDEO: Who is recruiting Minnesotans for ISIS?
Minneapolis — A big part of the fight against the terror group known as ISIS and ISIL is taking place on American soil in places where young people are leaving the country to go join their cause, even fight and die overseas.
Perhaps the biggest question of all is: Who is recruiting? It’s a question no one seems to be able to answer definitively in Minnesota, but a lot of fingers are pointing at Amir Meshal, a former al Qaeda suspect who lived on a quiet cul de sac in Eden Prairie, Minn., until recently. Yet, some believe he may actually be an FBI informant. Still others say he may be a kind of double agent.
No one is more suspicious of Meshal than Peter Erlinder, an attorney representing a would-be traveler to Syria.
“I am not prepared to confirm or deny the role my client had in this,” Erlinder told Fox 9 News.
Erlinder is a lawyer choosing his words very carefully, and his client is a high school-aged boy who was intercepted by the FBI at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June. The teen was trying to board a flight to Istanbul, but his presumed destination was Syria.
“It’s not illegal to go to Syria; there’s no crime in traveling to Istanbul,” Erlinder stressed.
Yet, the young man identified Meshal as some type of recruiter with agents who suspected the boy may have intended to fight for al Nusra, al Qaeda or ISIS. The teen apparently met Meshal at Al Farooq Youth and Family Center in Bloomington, Minn. That’s where Meshal is believed to have socialized with many of the men and women who havetraveledd to Syria to fight for ISIS.
Erlinder describes Meshal as “a very influential person at the mosque in Bloomington.” He apparently gave haircuts and arranged social evenings at various homes; however, the mosque called police and got a no-trespass order against him in June. According to the police report, leaders at the mosque told officers, “We have concerns about Meshal interacting with our youth.”
“He appears to be connected to a lot of these individuals,” Erlinder said.
During the secret grand jury proceedings involving Erlinder’s client, prosecutors have shown photos of those who traveled to Iraq — and Fox 9 News learned that Meshal is at the center of that case. The FBI has known about him since 2007, when he was arrested in Kenya after leaving a terror training camp in Somalia. According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the FBI interrogated Meshal at secret prisons in both Ethiopia and Somalia before releasing him back to the U.S. without charges 3 months later. That lawsuit contends the FBI offered to remove Meshal from the TSA’s no-fly list if he would become an informant for the government.
Erlinder declined to say whether he believes Meshal is really an FBI informant, but he did tell prosecutors he believes Meshal should be their real target, not his client. He told Fox 9 News that the prosecutors reacted to that assertion with “stunned silence and wide eyes.” When asked how he interpreted their response, he carefully replied: “Having information they didn’t expect I would have.”
Prosecutors would not be able to tell Erlinder if Meshal was or was not an informant, but neighbors told Fox 9 News they saw him loading up a van with his belongings two weeks ago and they haven’t seen him since. That house is owned by someone Fox 9 News has not been able to locate. In fact, the only address listed for that person is a post office box. Meanwhile, the FBI has been unwilling to comment on Meshal.
Source: My Fox 9 minneapolis