A Pakistan-origin doctor in the US has been handed an 18-year jail sentence for his involvement in attempting to provide material aid to the militant group Islamic State.
The US Department of Justice revealed that the individual, identified as Muhammad Masood, a former research coordinator at a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, under an H-1B Visa, received the sentence, encompassing 18 years in incarceration followed by five years of supervised release.
Court documents, referenced in the department’s official press statement, detailed that 31-year-old Muhammad Masood actively employed an encrypted messaging application to coordinate his international travel plans in a bid to join the aforementioned extremist organization. This transpired between January and March of 2020.
US Attorney Andrew M. Luger announced Masood’s involvement, highlighting that he voiced his strong inclination to become a part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), openly pledging his allegiance to both the group and its leader. He further disclosed his sinister intention to carry out “lone wolf” terrorist activities within the United States.
Masood, aiming to reach ISIS-controlled territory, initially planned to travel from Chicago to Amman, Jordan, in February 2020. However, his journey took a different turn as the pandemic prompted the closure of Jordan’s borders in March 2020.
As a consequence, he adjusted his travel strategy and agreed to meet an individual in Los Angeles, who he believed would aid him in embarking on a cargo ship journey to reach ISIS territory.
On March 19, 2020, Masood journeyed from Rochester to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he intended to board a flight headed for Los Angeles. At the airport, he underwent check-in procedures for his flight but was apprehended by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In his guilty plea on August 16, 2022, Masood admitted to attempting to provide support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The final verdict came down on a Friday, delivered by Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson.