Mayo Clinic Researcher Sentenced to 18 Years for Attempting to Join ISIS

A former researcher at the prestigious Mayo Clinic has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. Muhammad Masood, a 31-year-old Pakistani doctor, was found guilty of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Masood, who was employed at the Mayo Clinic under an H-1B Visa, was not just an ordinary employee. He held the position of research coordinator, a role that demands trust and integrity.

His arrest and subsequent sentencing sent shockwaves through the medical community and raised serious questions about the vetting process for foreign workers in sensitive roles.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force apprehended Masood as he checked in for his flight on March 19, 2020. The arrest was the culmination of a series of events that began with Masood pledging his allegiance to ISIS and expressing his desire to conduct “lone wolf” terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Masood’s radicalization didn’t stop at mere words. He took active steps to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (“ISIS”). In early 2020, he began using an encrypted messaging application to plan his travel to Syria, demonstrating a chilling level of commitment to his extremist beliefs.

In February 2020, Masood purchased a ticket from Chicago to Amman, Jordan, intending to travel from there to Syria. However, his plans were thwarted when Jordan closed its borders in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Undeterred, Masood then planned to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, where he believed he would meet an individual who could help him enter ISIS territory via a cargo ship.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing threat posed by radicalized individuals within our own borders. It also raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of our immigration and employment screening processes.

How did a man with such dangerous intentions manage to secure a position at one of America’s most respected medical institutions?

In August 2022, Masood pleaded guilty to his charges and was sentenced last week to 18 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.

This sentence is a testament to the strength of our justice system, but it also underscores the need for vigilance and robust security measures to protect our nation from those who seek to harm us.