ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A Pakistani doctor who worked as a research coordinator in Rochester was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday, March 19, for allegedly attempting to provide support to ISIS as he tried to board a plane to California.
Muhammad Masood, 28, is charged in U.S. District Court with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS), according to a news release from U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Erica H. MacDonald.
Between January and March, Masood is alleged to have made several statements to others — including pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and its leader — expressing his desire to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. He is also alleged to have expressed his desire to conduct “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the United States.
The FBI began investigating Masood in January after he allegedly contacted a “Confidential Human Source” via an encrypted social media platform believing the source was connected to ISIS and could help Masood get to Syria, according to the criminal complaint.
Masood allegedly told one of the sources, “I want to fight on the frontline as well as help the wounded brothers …”
On Feb. 19, Masood traveled from Rochester to Bloomington to meet with a source who was going to connect him with someone alleged to be an ISIS commander located overseas, according to the complaint. The commander was actually another confidential human source.
On Feb. 21, Masood purchased a plane ticket from Chicago to Amman, Jordan, and from there planned to travel to Syria. On March 16, his travel plans changed because Jordan closed its borders to incoming travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the news release.
"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," the release said.
Court records indicate Masood was formerly employed as a research coordinator at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, under an H-1B Visa. Court documents indicated his last day at his job was March 17. Mayo confirmed Masood was no longer employed with the clinic at the time of his arrest. He is a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan.
Masood made his first appearance in federal court on Thursday. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 24.