The former Minnesota man who left the U.S. years ago to join an al-Qaida affiliate denied he's a member of al-Shabab or the Islamic State in an interview with a news outlet.
Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, also known as Mujahid Miski, turned himself in to the government in Somalia's capitol of Mogadishu last month.
He spoke with Voice of America for a story published Tuesday, and acknowledged he has voiced support for the Islamic State – but said he wasn't a part of the militant group.
Hassan attended Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. He left for Somalia in 2008 to join al-Shabab (an al-Qaida-linked militant group based in Somalia) when he was 17 years old, and was indicted on federal terror charges a year later.
He told Voice of America however he actually left al-Shabab in 2013, disagreeing with their unjust imprisonment, torture and killing.
Al-Shabab and the Islamic State are not allies right now. As The Guardian explains, there is an internal divide within al-Shabab members whether to stay affiliated with al-Qaida, or switch allegiance to the Islamic State.
More on Hassan
Hassan was born in Somalia, according to earlier reports.The State Department – in a press release sent to several media outlets including MPR News, KSTP and the Associated Press – called him a “lawful permanent resident” of the United States, but said he is not a citizen.
The U.S. doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Somalia, so it’s unclear what the next steps will be in his case. But Hassan told Voice of America he doesn't intend to return to the United States to face charges.
He's been described as especially influential on social media. The Counter Extremism Project’s David Ibsen described Hassan as one of the most influential terror recruiters on Twitter, and he also reportedly used social media to call for an attack in Texas in May.