OTR Interviews

Terror infiltration? American ISIS fighter worked at Minneapolis airport

Second American known to have been killed while fighting alongside ISIS once worked for an airport in Minnesota. How close were we to an ISIS attack from within the US?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now to disturbing, and maybe even terrifying, new information about one of the Americans who went to Syria to fight for ISIS and got killed in battle. Turns out, before he left to join ISIS in Syria, he worked at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Now, KMSP reporter Tom Lyden broke that story. He joins us with the very latest.

Tom, thank you for joining us. And can you tell me who is this man? Where did he work?

TOM LYDEN, REPORTER, KMSP, FOX MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL: You know, all great questions, Greta. Late this afternoon, the airport confirmed our reporting from last night, and also filled in the details of that work history you are talking about. And some of the items on the resume, quite frankly, are going to cause real concern. The airport knew Abdul Rahmed Muhammad by his real name, Abdufada Ahmed. Law enforcement sources confirming we are dealing with the same man who died fighting for ISIS.

He worked at the airport for a decade, between November 2001 and May 2011, and had access to the tarmac and planes. For most of that time, he worked fueling up the planes themselves. Most recently though, 2010, 2011, he worked cleaning planes. Part of that job also was securing the planes. That was for Delta Global Services, which is owned by Delta Airlines. For both jobs, he held security clearance known as SIDA, for Secure Identification Display Area. You need an FBI background check to get that clearance, but allows you to skip the metal detectors to get right on to the airport tarmac. And the checkpoints involve a fairly cursory inspection of the vehicles going through.

Now, we don't know under what circumstances he left his job in May of 2011. The airport says it doesn't know. Delta won't comment except to say it is aware of our reporting and is working with local law enforcement.

But, Greta, I can tell, to some extent, the chronology is going to come as a relief to law enforcement because it appears, from his social media accounts, he was radicalized later than 2011, after he left the airport. It was around 2013, social media shifted from talking about women and dating -- he was a bit of a player with four wives, nine kids -- to talking about fighting and dying for a lie. It was last year, he made that shift.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Tom, maybe FBI feels better about that. I don't feel better somebody gets FBI check, works on a tarmac. It's a reporter who exposed this. We didn't hear this from the FBI or Delta or the Minneapolis Airport.

LYDEN: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: We got it from you. So the fact that he has changed what his content of his social media doesn't make me feel a whole lot better. But what I do want to know, do we know how he got into ISIS?

LYDEN: No. That is still a mystery about what the recruiting level is on the ground. Obviously -- I was reporting back in 2007, we broke the story about the 20 Minnesota Somalis who went to fight for al Shabaab. We believe that had a whole different recruiting apparatus than what we are talking about today. There were indictments for that case. We don't know how the recruiting was going down. Were people on the ground here recruiting or was it done mostly through social media and the Internet.

And, Greta, you mentioned not feeling so great about this, we didn't know about it? I will throw one other wrinkle. We didn't know about this alias until two hours ago. With the Somali community here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it's difficult because many of them come to this country not knowing their exact date of birth. Their date of birth lists January 1st, 1972 because they don't know their birthday. And also many of these clan names are very, very similar. We have done stories where you can have two people in the jail, two different individuals, same name, same date of birth. It gets very, very confusing and appears to be confusing in this case as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tom, the American people, a big thanks to you for breaking this story. They will look a lot closer at a lot of people tonight. At least I hope they do. If this story hadn't been broking, we'd all be getting our boarding passes and maybe locking our seat so the person in front of us couldn't recline. Who knows?

Anyway.

LYDEN: Yeah.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tom, thank you.

LYDEN: Sure.