A former Mayo Clinic research coordinator pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to provide support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), more than two years after the FBI stopped him from attempting to travel to Syria to join the terror group.
Muhammad Masood, 30, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization during a 30-minute court hearing on Tuesday. Masood was a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan and worked for the Rochester-based Mayo Clinic under an H-1B Visa before his arrest.
Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson will schedule a sentencing date at a later time, according to court records.
According to court documents, Masood expressed a desire to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS and pledged his allegiance to the group and his leader through several statements made to people between January and March of 2020.
Masood traveled to Bloomington and met at a hotel with a confidential informant he believed would help him join ISIS. They patched in another informant via video conference, who Masood believed was an overseas commander vetting him.
Masood told the two that he had listened to lectures from Anwar al-Awlaki a senior al-Qaida recruiter killed in a 2011 drone strike, according to charges. Masood said he wanted to be "a combat medic … and also fight."
According to the complaint, Masood wrote that because he was currently in the United States, "sometimes i [want to] attack enemy when I am behind enemy [lines] itself " because "not many people cant even reach here to attack."
He also allegedly lamented that by traveling overseas he would lose out on the chance to carry out an attack in the United States, writing "i wonder if I will miss the opportunity of attacking the enemy when I was in the middle of it."
Masood bought a plane ticket in February 2020 from Chicago to Amman, Jordan, and planned to travel on to Syria. His plans changed on March 16 that year when Jordan closed its borders to incoming travelers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He instead planned to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to meet with someone he believed would help him travel via cargo ship into ISIS territory. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Masood when he checked in for his flight on March 19, 2020.
Staff writers Andy Mannix and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.