Pakistani doctor arrested in US for trying to help ISIS

Washington: A Pakistani doctor on Friday was arrested for allegedly trying to help ISIS and expressing his desire to conduct “lone wolf’ terrorist attacks in the US, officials said.

Muhammad Masood, 28, made several statements to others between January and March, including pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and its leader, and expressing his desire to travel to Syria to fight for the terrorist group, according to Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers and Attorney Erica MacDonald for the District of Minnesota.

Masood also expressed his desire to conduct “lone wolf’ terrorist attacks in the US, they said.

He was arrested at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport and made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge David Schultz in the US District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which is scheduled for March 24.

Masood is a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan and was formerly employed as research coordinator for a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, under an H-1B visa.

On February 21, Masood purchased a plane ticket from Chicago, Illinois to Amman, Jordan, and from there planned to travel to Syria. On March 16, 2020, his travel plans changed because Jordan closed its borders to incoming travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the complaint.

Masood made a new plan to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to meet up with an individual who he believed would assist him with travel via cargo ship to deliver him to ISIS territory, it alleged.

On Thursday, he travelled from Rochester to Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP) to board a flight bound for Los Angeles, California. Upon arrival at MSP, Masood checked in for his flight and was subsequently arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, officials said.