Muhammad Masood, a 31-year-old Pakistani doctor and former research coordinator at the Mayo Clinic, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday, August 25, for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS). Masood had pled guilty to the charges in 2022.
According to prosecutors, Masood was in the U.S. on a work visa and had made multiple attempts to travel to Syria to join ISIS fighters. His plans were foiled when he was arrested by FBI agents at the Minneapolis airport on March 19, 2020. Masood had planned to fly to Los Angeles before boarding a cargo ship to ISIS-controlled territory.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson issued the sentence, stating that Masood had expressed a clear intent to carry out terrorist activities. Prosecutors noted that, beginning in January 2020, Masood had been in contact with paid informants whom he believed were ISIS members. During these interactions, he pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group and its leader, and expressed a desire to carry out “lone wolf” attacks within the U.S., according to AP.
The FBI’s investigation into Masood began in 2020 when they discovered messages he had posted on an encrypted social media platform. In these messages, Masood claimed to be a medical doctor with a Pakistani passport and expressed a desire to travel to Syria, Iraq, or northern Iran near Afghanistan. He stated that he wanted “to fight on the front line as well as help the wounded brothers.”
The Mayo Clinic has confirmed that Masood was formerly employed at its medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, but clarified that he was not working there at the time of his arrest.
Read the DOJ’s press release:
A Rochester man was sentenced today to 216 months in prison, equivalent to 18 years, followed by five years of supervised release for attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
According to court documents, Muhammad Masood, 31, a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan, was formerly employed as a research coordinator at a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, under an H-1B visa. Between January 2020 and March 2020, Masood used an encrypted messaging application to facilitate his travel overseas to join a terrorist organization. Masood made multiple statements about his desire to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), and he pledged his allegiance to the designated terrorist organization and its leader. Masood also expressed his desire to conduct “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the United States. On Feb. 21, 2020, Masood purchased a plane ticket from Chicago, Illinois, to Amman, Jordan, and from there planned to travel to Syria. On March 16, 2020, Masood’s travel plans changed because Jordan closed its borders to incoming travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Masood then agreed 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.
On March 19, 2020, Masood traveled 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.
Masood pleaded guilty on Aug. 16, 2022, to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Masood was sentenced today before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter for the District of Minnesota and Trial Attorney Dmitriy Slavin National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.