Nevada Highway Patrol troopers last week questioned, then released, a person identified as a “possible terrorist” on the government’s watch list, a spokesman for the agency said Thursday.
Trooper Alan Davidson said a Chevrolet HHR rental car was stopped shortly after 9 p.m. Oct. 6 for speeding on Interstate 15 near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Davidson said troopers questioned the five men in the vehicle. The men said they were on their way to a wedding in San Diego.
However, Davidson said they couldn’t name whose wedding they were attending and that none of the passengers had any clothes appropriate for a wedding.
“It seemed like everybody’s story conflicted,” Davidson said.
He said the driver, 32-year-old Cabdulaahi Faarax, had a valid Minnesota driver’s license.
The men said they were of Somali descent.
Davidson said because the men’s stories conflicted, the troopers asked for permission to search the car and found $4,000 in a suitcase.
Davidson said troopers decided to run three of the men’s names through a federal database. Faarax’s name drew a hit as a “possible active member of a terrorist watch list,” Davidson said.
At that point, the troopers contacted the FBI, who made the decision to let the men go.
“They were notified we had this subject on location,” Davidson said. “If he was wanted for any reason, they could have come and got him.”
According to a Fox News report, sources confirmed the occupants of the car are related to a long-running federal investigation of young men in the Minneapolis area who were recruited to train and possibly fight with an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia, known as al-Shabaab.
Joseph Dickey, a special agent with the FBI of Las Vegas, said Thursday he has been directed not to comment on the incident.
The trooper who made the stop chose not to cite Faarax for misdemeanor speeding.
Davidson said the troopers learned 45 minutes after the stop that the renter of the car, Abdow M. Abdow of Chanhassen, Minn, had an active missing person’s report filed on him. He was one of the passengers in the car.
According to the Fox News report, Abdow has been charged with lying to the FBI. The report said Abdow told the FBI he didn’t know who rented the car.
FBI agents later learned Abdow rented the car from Avis Rental Car Co. and paid for it with his Visa debit card.
Fox News said he is the only man who faces charges in connection with the speeding stop. He made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday.
A judge in the case said Abdow could be released to a halfway house under certain conditions, Fox News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.