Mom hoped son would work for P&G; he chose ISIS instead

CINCINNATI ---  His parents wanted him to be a chemist, but all Munir Abdulkader could think about were knives and pipe bombs.

Abdulkader, praised for his intelligence in court documents, received a scholarship after graduating from Lakota East High School to attend Xavier University. He majored in chemistry. His mother hoped he might work for Procter & Gamble, but instead he plead guilty earlier this year to a gruesome plan officials say was approved by a religious leader for the terror group Islamic State, or ISIS.

His mother told Vocativ reporters in 2014 Abdulkader didn't have a phone and never did anything but study.

Not exactly.

"I really don't like living here," Abdulkader told a confidential government informant in 2015, according to court documents.

Government officials say the West Chester Township resident tweeted images of beheadings and support for the Islamic State terror group almost daily. Abdulkader dreamed of traveling to Syria and attaining martyrdom.

"I love my parents and family," he once wrote on Twitter, according to court documents. "I don't want to pay them with money after college, rather through the intercession of a (martyr) on that day."

Eventually, U.S. officials say, a prominent overseas member of ISIL directed and helped him plot to kill a government employee, film it and attack a police station in the Cincinnati area -- trying to kill as many cops as possible. Officials have refused to say which police station was targeted.

Abudlkader pleaded guilty earlier this year to three charges related to the plot. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 25 years in prison, including a lifetime of supervised release.

The 22-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced next week. Ahead of his sentencing, new court documents filed Thursday in federal court reveal more about Abdulkader and his plan than ever before.

Here's what we learned:

Abdulkader hid terror plans from his parents:

FBI agents interviewed Abdulkader's older brother about Abdulkader's pro-ISIL statements on Twitter in 2014. A few months later, reporters with Vocativ, a media company that uses data-mining technology to access information on the Internet most can't, interviewed Abdulkader's mom.

Although the family is originally from Eritrea in eastern Africa, she said Abdulkader was born in the United States and has never left the country. Abdulkader and his family moved from New York City to West Chester in 2009.

Abdulkader immediately deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts after his mom did the interview. But he created a new Twitter account condemning journalists, according to court documents, and continued to post about his support of ISIL.

In November of 2014, he posted about feeling sick to his stomach for not being in Syria. He also said he teared up after watching an ISIL video.

To conceal his plans to travel to Syria, Abdulkader lied on his passport application and had it mailed to a friend's house. He also tweeted misleading statements online to disguise his real reason for traveling, U.S. officials said.

"I get to see my grandparents soon," he tweeted on Jan. 14, 2015. "Been 16+ years. They're weak and dying."

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He wanted to kill a soldier who had been in Iraq or Afghanistan:

The same day Abdulkader tweeted about visiting his grandparents, the FBI arrested Christopher Cornell. Cornell, of Green Township, planned to bomb the U.S. Capitol and shoot President Barack Obama in the head.

"I'm with the Islamic State," Cornell told WXIX-TV in an interview from jail.

Abdulkader had received a voice mail from a member of ISIL with instructions on how to travel and successfully cross the border into the war zone, according to court documents. But Cornell's arrest and other highly-publicized incidents forced Abdulkader to rethink his plan.

Junaid Hussain, a well-known ISIL operative heavily involved in the group's recruitment, also told him travel was too risky. Hussain was killed in an air strike about three months after Abdulkader was arrested. Before his death, he was said to be a central figure for the terror group.

Turning his attention to an attack in the United States, Abdulkader talked about the FBI headquarters. He then switched his target a military base, before concerns about tightened security there made him rethink again.

The new plan: Raid a government employee's home, behead him and use pipe bombs to attack a police station. Fight until he was killed.

Hussain, according to court documents, even suggested Abdulkader wear the government employee's uniform to the police station.

When asked about beheading the employee, Abdulkader told a confidential government source it was the "only way to send a loud message."

"Abdulkader was adamant that he wanted Hussain to provide information about an actual soldier who had fought in Iraq or Afghanistan," according to court documents.

It was not clear why, although Abdulkader had posted online messages about two of his cousins who died fighting in Syria.

Abdulkader talked to Hussain about 2015 attacks in Garland, Texas, where two gunmen attacked a Mohammed cartoon drawing event. One guard was wounded before the two attackers were killed.

Abdulkader didn't believe the gunmen trained enough, so he began making plans to buy a gun and practice shooting it.

"I'm actually very excited for the confrontation," he told Hussain on May 16, 2015, according to court documents.

Abudalkder then bought an AK-47 rifle, through an arrangement set up by the confidential source, in a Mason parking lot and was arrested by the FBI.

An expert believes Abdulkader was unfairly set up:

Marc Sageman is a former CIA operations officer. He works as a counterterrorism consultant and forensic psychiatrist. He has written extensively Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

Sageman argues in a court filing the FBI's use of a confidential source gave Abdulkader the means to carry out an attack he couldn't have done without the government's involvement. He also said Abdulkader isn't likely to return to terroristic activity when released from jail.

"By setting (the defendant) up via the (confidential human source) and arresting him," said Sageman. "The FBI did not make the United States safer from terrorism."

Sageman said Abdulkader was curious and retweeted videos. He said he wanted to immigrate to Syria to live in a "genuine land of Islam."

The prosecuting attorneys argued Abdulkader was in contact with Hussain long before he was contacted by their confidential informant. Prosecutors attacked Sageman in their response, saying theories in his recent book, "Misunderstanding Terrorism," forced him to view the Abdulkader case in a certain way.

"Sageman's confounding conclusion is a product of his deep-seed biases reflected in his new book," United State Attorney Benjamin Glassman wrote in a memorandum. "And so, Sageman rewrote the facts to reach a tortured conclusion."

Abdulkader is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18.

The Cincinnati Enquirer


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