LAS VEGAS, NV -- The road trip ended up like many in Las Vegas: flashing red and blue lights in the rear-view mirror.
The real end, however, came in a Minnesota Federal Court. Two weeks ago, the FBI arrested Abdow Munye Abdow for two counts of making false statements to a federal official. The FBI believes Abdow lied about his trip to Las Vegas, and a passenger he was with who was on the terrorism watch list.
The Nevada Highway Patrol pulled over Abdow and four other people on October 6, 2009 for speeding. Trooper Alan Davidson, a spokesperson for NHP, said the officer on the scene began asking questions.
Davidson says the men had $4,000 split between them and that they were headed to San Diego for a wedding. "They didn't have any clothes for the wedding. They didn't even know where they were staying," Davidson said.
When pressed, the driver, Cabdulaahi Faarax, "said he was going to a wedding in San Diego, but he didn't know who was getting wed," Davidson said. "The driver's story just didn't add up."
That driver, Faarax, was eventually run through the National Crime Information Center. Davidson says the name came back as positive on the "terrorism watch list." When the name came up, NHP policy is to contact FBI, which the trooper on the scene did. Local FBI officials would not comment on the case, but indications are that the trooper was told to let the men leave.
"They did nothing wrong in front of us. There were no active warrants out for the subjects. By law, we can only detain them for one hour," Davidson said.
Media reports indicate the men may have been attempting to travel to Mexico through San Diego in order to fly to Somalia. There, a few of the men may have joined an Al-Qaida-connected terror resistance group.
According to the affidavit, while in San Diego, two of the men in the car told a border agent at the San Ysidro Port of Entry they were planning to fly to Mexico City through Tijuana.
It is unclear where Faarax went after the stop in Las Vegas, but federal authorities caught up with Abdow when he returned to Minnesota. That is when the situation unraveled for Abdow.
During an interview with agents, Abdow said only one person came on the trip with him. He also said he rented the car following a fight with his wife. Agents asked Abdow two other times about the passengers. He also said he did not know who paid for the rental car, despite credit card records showing Abdow paid for it.
Eventually, Abdow told agents he did nothing wrong and said "whatever those guys are into I'm not." He was eventually arrested and charged for making false statements. He has a court appearance in Minnesota on October 27th.