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“These were not confused young men,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said at a news conference this morning in Minneapolis. “These are focused young men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means possible.”
Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Adnan Farah, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, were arrested in Minneapolis on Sunday. Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 21, and Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, were arrested the same day in California after driving from Minneapolis to San Diego, allegedly on their way to Mexico and then Syria.
Authorities said the arrests cap a 10-month FBI investigation into ISIS recruitment in Minneapolis, where recruits have outpaced young men and women like them in most other U.S. cities.
Over the past year, the men charged today made repeated efforts to leave the United States for Syria, court documents allege. Another man not identified in court documents also tried to make it to Syria, but in January he began cooperating with the FBI in its broader investigation, according to court documents.
That unidentified informant even began recording conversations and meetings with the others now under arrest, the documents say.
In announcing the charges today, federal prosecutors singled out one Minneapolis native as allegedly helping to recruit his broader group of friends to ISIS.
Abdi Nur, 18, slipped out of the United States last spring, and since then he has played a key role in helping his friends to join him, federal prosecutors allege.
“From his locale in Syria, Nur recruits individuals and provides assistance to those who want to leave Minneapolis to fight abroad,” according to charging documents filed today in Minneapolis.
At least three other Minnesotans are known to have gone to Syria to join ISIS. But all three of them have since been killed in the fighting.
In the past two years, nearly 50 Americans have been charged with trying to join ISIS or are otherwise suspected of being radicalized by the group.
Minneapolis became the epicenter of another terrorism investigation several years ago, when more than 20 young, Somali men were recruited to join al-Shabab, Al Qaeda’s offshoot in war-torn Somalia.
Two of those recruits returned to the United States and ultimately testified at trial against a 46-year-old Minnesotan who helped send them to al-Shabab.
ABC News' Josh Margolin and Jack Date contributed to this report.