WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A Westminster 18-year-old who allegedly planned to join the Islamic State (ISIS) was arrested at the Denver International Airport Monday before boarding an international flight, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court of Colorado.
Humzah Mashkoor, 18, of Westminster is accused of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
According to court documents, Mashkoor landed on law enforcement's radar in November 2021 after he posted his support for ISIS on social media. He also used his social media to communicate with other ISIS supporters, the complaint states.
In September 2022, Mashkoor began communicating with an FBI agent who was posing as a fellow ISIS supporter. Over the course of a year, he spoke with four agents who were all acting as ISIS supporters. To avoid detection, the young man used coded phrases and multiple social media accounts and also changed his usernames, the complaint states.
Mashkoor told one of the agents he was born in the United States and returned to Afghanistan for a few years "before his family was forced to leave Afghanistan." He later became interested in joining ISIS, according to court documents.
Between September 2022 and December 2023, the complaint states Mashkoor shared his intent to join ISIS as a fighter, provide money to the organization and recruit other supporters. He also "expressed frustration" that he was unable to travel to join ISIS or provide money because he wasn't yet 18 years old, according to court documents.
In early June 2023, Mashkoor "discussed a desire to get married, find a job, and complete his schooling," court documents state. However, he was worried "about the possibility of abandoning her in Afghanistan "after [he's] martyred or something else."" The next month, the young man told one of the undercover agents he was no longer pursuing his GED and was focused on traveling abroad to be with ISIS.
As his 18th birthday approached in November 2023, Mashkoor began "making more concrete plans to travel abroad to join ISIS," the complaint reads. Around Nov. 25, he bought a flight from Denver to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with connections through New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport) and Kuwait. While in the UAE, the young man planned to get a visa to enter Afghanistan.
The flight was scheduled for Dec. 11. However, Mashkoor became sick with COVID-19 and rescheduled his trip for Dec. 18, according to court documents.
His new plan, according to the complaint, was to travel from Denver to New York (LaGuardia Airport) on Dec. 18, and then travel from New York (JFK) to Qatar on the morning of Dec. 19, with a final destination of Sharjah, UAE. From there, he travel to Afghanistan after getting a visa.
An adult relative was scheduled to travel with Mashkoor and return to Denver from Dubai on Dec. 30. Mashkoor did not have a return flight booked, court documents state.
According to court documents, Mashkoor's family did not know why he was leaving. He told one of the agents his family was "very sad and it's been having a toll on my mental health," according to the complaint. He said, "I don't know how to properly say my final goodbyes to them or how to convey the reasons why I left without compromising myself."
Mashkoor and the relative arrived at the Denver International Airport around 8:33 a.m. on Dec. 18. After checking bags, the two proceeded to the TSA security area. Mashkoor passed through security and was taken into custody before reaching the train to the gates.
The same day, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mashkoor's Westminster home. According to court documents, authorities found journal entries that included drawings of the ISIS flag and a note explaining his plan to join the organization. Some of the journal entries, according to court documents, included:
- "I fell in love with their (ISIS) steadfastness in the face of such animosity."
- "From then on I decided I wanted to be like them. Leaving behind the hypocritical life of humiliation to migrate to the lands of jihad."
- "So once again I state, that I have NO regrets about this blessed path decorated with thorns. And I hope to be granted one of two things. Victory over my enemies, or martyrdom."
The complaint states Mashkoor ended his journal by saying, "I will never forget all that you've done for me and I'm sorry for how I treated you. Goodbye."
This is the second young Coloradan to be arrested this year for their alleged connection to ISIS. Davin Daniel Meyer, 18, of Castle Rock was charged with terrorism-related crimes in July after attempting to board an international flight to join ISIS and serve as one of its fighters in Iraq.