Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi
Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi. Image from Canadian court proceedings

A former San Diego resident who helped fund the travel of North Americans who fought overseas for ISIS was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison.

Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi, 37, pleaded guilty last year to federal charges stemming from his financial assistance of six Americans and Canadians who traveled to Syria to engage in “armed battles to gain control of the territories and civilian populations within Syria” on behalf of ISIS, according to prosecutors.

All six of those individuals died, including Douglas McCain, another former San Diego resident who is believed to be the first American to die while fighting for ISIS.

Prosecutors say Abdullahi wired funds to ISIS members overseas and took part in an armed robbery of a Canadian jewelry store in order to acquire money to pay for his co-conspirators’ travel.

According to the prosecution’s sentencing papers, Abdullahi’s main role was to serve as a “North American facilitator of ISIS foreign fighters.”

In addition to the jewelry store holdup, prosecutors say Abdullahi recruited and encouraged others to commit crimes such as theft in order to collect funds to support terrorist activities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said he claimed crimes of that sort against the “kuffar,” or non-Muslims, were permissible under Islamic law.

Abdullahi helped pay for the travel of McCain, four of Abdullahi’s cousins and another person from Canada, all six of whom died in 2014 while fighting for ISIS.

The prosecution’s sentencing papers state that Abdullahi’s family and the McCain family previously lived near Minneapolis, then moved to San Diego, where Abdullahi lived for about six years. Abdullahi’s family later moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he committed the jewelry store robbery in January 2014.

A grand jury returned an indictment charging Abdullahi in 2017 and he was arrested about six months later by Canadian authorities. Abdullahi was extradited to the United States in October 2019.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy said in a statement, “Abdullahi committed violent, unlawful acts to obtain money, then used that money to support the murder, torture, and extreme violence that ISIS represents.”



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Ellen Bullock