- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Two of seven Minnesota men accused of plotting to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group face additional charges of financial aid fraud, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The indictment alleges Hamza Naj Ahmed, 21, and Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, used federal financial aid to purchase plane tickets. Authorities say they were part of a group that took a bus from Minneapolis to New York last November, and were stopped at JFK Airport before they could travel overseas.

The two men are among seven already charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Authorities have described the men as friends in Minnesota’s Somali community who recruited and inspired each other and met secretly to plan travel to Syria.

The Minneapolis area is home to the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the U.S. Authorities have said a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants, and at least one has been confirmed dead. Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men have also traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab.

The new indictment alleges Ahmed used $1,048 of federal financial aid to buy a plane ticket to Turkey, and Musse used $1,269 of financial aid to buy a ticket to Greece. The charges say the men knowingly and willfully misapplied the money and failed to refund it.

Attorneys for Ahmed and Musse did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the new charges.

The other men listed in the indictment are: brothers Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, and Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19; Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 21; Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19; and Guled Ali Omar, 20. They were all charged by criminal complaint last month with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

All but Adnan Farah are also charged with attempting to provide such support; Ahmed and Mohamed Farah face additional counts of lying to the FBI.

Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, said the community still has questions about where some of the other travelers got the money for plane tickets.

Authorities say that after most of the men had made failed attempts to get to Syria, the group came up with a plan to buy fake passports and go to Syria via Mexico. Last month, Mohamed Farah and Daud were arrested in San Diego as authorities say they were trying to make the trip.

Daud made his first appearance in federal court in Minneapolis on Tuesday. He will stay in custody pending a detention hearing Friday. His attorney, Bruce Nestor, had no comment on the charges.

Mohamed Farah remains in San Diego and is expected to be transferred to Minnesota.

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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amyforliti

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