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Why A Young Minneapolis Man Wanted To Join ISIS

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now a development in a story we heard on this program last week. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston told us about an 18-year-old Minnesota man arrested for trying to join ISIS. Today he entered a guilty plea and, as Dina reports, began to explain why he wanted to join the group.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: In his plea agreement, Abdullahi Yusuf told prosecutors that last spring he and a handful of his friends began to get together to talk about going to fight in Syria. The young men agreed the regime there was killing innocent Muslims, and they wanted to stop it. The timing is important. It was before the U.S. declared ISIS a terrorist organization and before the group had started beheading hostages. While he awaits sentencing, a judge has allowed Yusuf to start a kind of de-radicalization program.

MARY MCKINLEY: We were approached by his attorneys. They knew that we had worked with Somali American teens in the past.

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's Mary McKinley, the person behind the rehab program. The plea clears the way for the counseling to begin. Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.

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