Minneapolis Man Charged With Lying To Federal Agents During Terrorism Investigation
Defendant Intercepted in New York City While Attempting to Fly Overseas Possibly to Join Terror Organization
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced a criminal complaint charging HAMZA AHMED, 19, with lying to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). AHMED is charged with making a false statement in a terrorism investigation.1 The defendant made an initial appearance on February 5, 2015, before Magistrate Judge Steven Rau in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn.
“Any person has a right to remain silent, or to consult an attorney when speaking with federal agents or prosecutors,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “However, this Office will continue to prosecute those who lie to federal law enforcement officers and impede criminal investigations into suspected terrorist activity.”
According to the complaint and documents filed in court, AHMED and three companions, H.M.M, M.F., and Z.A., travelled by bus from Minneapolis, Minn., to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The four men were each booked on international flights scheduled to depart JFK on November 9, 2014. AHMED and M.F. were booked on the same flight from JFK to Istanbul, Turkey. Z.A., M.F., and H.M.M. were each prevented from boarding their flights. AHMED successfully boarded, but was removed from the aircraft before it left the boarding gate.
According to the complaint and documents filed in court, AHMED was subsequently interviewed by FBI agents. He made multiple false statements during the interview, including telling agents that he was traveling alone, and that he did not know M.F. or H.M.M. When AHMED arrived back in Minnesota on November 9, 2014, FBI agents conducted a second voluntary interview, during which AHMED lied to agents.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, AHMED told FBI agents that he traveled to New York alone and intended to vacation in Madrid for four days by himself. However, the itinerary he booked would have allowed AHMED only one full day in Madrid. Moreover, AHMED did not book a hotel room in Madrid, and he did not know anyone in Madrid. AHMED again denied that he was traveling with M.F.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, AHMED told agents that he only “vaguely” knew H.A.M., an individual from Minnesota known to have traveled to Syria in 2014. However, a review of AHMED’s publicly available Twitter account shows that a lengthy series of messages between AHMED and H.A.M. took place between November 2013 and March 2014.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter and John Docherty.
HAMZA AHMED, 19
• False Statement in a Terrorism Investigation, 1 count
The charges contained in the criminal complaints are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.