A 21-year-old Minneapolis man pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support (fighters) to ISIS tells Scott Pelley how he was radicalized by the Internet videos of the dead American al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Speaking in his first interview, Abdirizak Warsame takes responsibility for his actions and the blame for the deaths of friends he helped send to fight in Syria. His interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
An excerpt of Warsame’s interview appeared on Thursday’s CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. A transcript of the excerpt is below.
Tonight, we have a rare interview with an American who became the leader of an ISIS cell, sending young men to their deaths in Syria.
He’s one of thousands of Somali refugees welcomed there since the 1990s. Warsame is facing 15 years in prison. In an interview for this Sunday’s 60 Minutes, he told us he was pulled into terrorism -- online -- through the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda cleric and preacher of war.
Abdirizak Warsame: He explained how Islam was, you know, like, my calling. It was almost like he was talking to you. And like it made you feel like you were special, you know? And like you’re the chosen one.
Scott Pelley: How much time did you spend watching these videos?
Abdirizak Warsame: I would just continuously watch them when I wasn’t doing anything. When I wasn’t at school or doing my homework or, you know, out with my family. I was watching those videos.
And around the videos grew a congregation.
Abdirizak Warsame: I thought I was the only one. But when I met these group of men that I was friends with, it was kind of shocking to see that they also knew about these videos too. We would listen and listen until we became, you know, wrapped in this ideology. All those lectures would talk about how it wasn’t a time for just, you know, talking, but it was a time for action.
The route to “action” was a link away in the videos of ISIS. Warsame and 11 friends set their sights.
Scott Pelley: Why did you want to go to Syria?
Abdirizak Warsame: I would be helping people who are oppressed and people who are Muslim.
The first two reached Syria, Yusuf Jama, and Abdi Nur.
Scott Pelley: What happened to him?
Abdirizak Warsame: I believe he’s dead right now.
Scott Pelley: How did that happen?
Abdirizak Warsame: He was fighting and he was killed.
Yusuf Jama was also killed.
Scott Pelley: Are you responsible for their deaths?
Abdirizak Warsame: Yeah, I believe I am responsible for their deaths and I think about that every day.