A young Twin Cities man who has pleaded guilty to attempting to join the Islamic State in Syria said he saw them as "freedom fighters" and believed the extremist group's propaganda.
WCCO reports 19-year-old Hanad Musse told a federal court during a "change of plea" hearing Wednesday morning he wanted to "protect the people of Syria and Iraq and form an Islamic State."
"I committed a terrorist act, and I’m guilty of it," he told U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, according to the Star Tribune.
He is one of seven Twin Cities men held on charges of attempting to join the Islamic State, and one of six arrested by FBI agents in April while trying to leave the country.
During the hearing, Musse said he spoke "only for myself," but did admit he was involved in a larger conspiracy when some of his co-defendants names were read out, the Star Tribune adds.
FOX 9 reports Musse said he initially saw IS as "freedom fighters," as he pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and misusing federal student loans to buy a plane ticket.
The TV station said Musse used the loan money to try to fly to Greece, and made a second attempt to leave the U.S. for Syria by flying via Mexico.
He faces up to 15 years in prison, WCCO notes, adding two of his co-conspirators are also considering changing their pleas.
According to MPR News' Mukhtar Ibrahim, Musse was born in St. Louis Park and was a full-time student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College living with his father, a federal government employee.
On Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger is expected to reveal a new series of youth programs aimed at Minnesota's Somali community designed to divert them from recruitment and radicalization by overseas extremists, MPR News reports.
The Washington Post has put together a map based on where people suspected of aiding or trying to join the Islamic State were arrested – with Minneapolis having nine cases pending, and one convicted – second only to New York.