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Local/state briefs

United Way of Southwest Minnesota announces 2020 campaign co-chairs

United Way of Southwest Minnesota is excited to announce that Rachel Nuese and Michelle Doeling will chair this year’s annual campaign for the area. Nuese is a human resources manager for Schwan’s Company in Marshall. Doeling is the retail branch manager at Minnwest Bank in Marshall. The United Way campaign officially kicks off in September. Pacesetter campaigns at various workplaces have started to kick off around our service area. The theme of the campaign is Every Person. Every Community.

Our goal is to be able to continue to support the various programs that will help our communities grow and become stronger. Together we can evolve and become stronger as one community, shared Nuese and Doeling. This position provides leadership for the campaign itself and the resource development committee, a diverse group of volunteer leaders and board directors that shape and implement strategies to meet local yearly fundraising goals.

Nuese and Doeling are the latest in a long line of local leaders who have chaired the position. Michelle Doeling also chaired the campaign in 2019-20, Melanie Pedersen, U.S. Bank, chaired the 2018-19, Amy Herrick, North Star Mutual Insurance Company, chaired the 2017-18 campaign; Lee Steffen, ADM, and Julie Pederson Sanford Canby Medical Center, co-chaired the campaign in 2016-17; Abby Wikelius, Lyon County Attorney’s Office, chaired the campaign in 2015-16; Ben Alcorn, U.S. Bank, chaired the campaign in 2014-15. Nuese resides near Hendricks, with her husband, Ryan and three children Easton, Savannah and Emery. Doeling resides in Marshall with her husband, Nic and four children, Connor, Madelyn, Gunnar and Baylor.

Bodies of 2 of 3 victims in Cessna crash recovered

GREY CLOUD ISLAND TOWNSHIP (AP) — The bodies of two of the three victims aboard a single-engine plane that crashed into a quarry lake have been recovered, according to Washington County sheriff’s officials.

A pilot and two passengers were onboard the Cessna plane when it went down Sunday in the quarry on Grey Cloud Island near the Mississippi River and Cottage Grove.

The plane left Fleming Field in South St. Paul sometime after 2 p.m. Sunday, officials said. Authorities were notified that the plane was missing Sunday night, said Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry.

The first signs of wreckage were found around 11 p.m. Sunday, Starry said. Divers have been working in water that’s 70 feet deep.

FBI offers reward in 2016 slaying in Eagle Butte

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for leads in an unsolved South Dakota homicide from 2016.

The Minneapolis Field Office of the FBI is offering the reward for information about the murder of Jessie Wallace Cook in Eagle Butte. The FBI hopes new tips will lead to a suspect or suspects in the case.

The 32-year-old Cook was found on Oct. 29, 2016 unresponsive on the ground near the Eagle Butte water tower on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. He was found with severe facial injuries. An autopsy determined blunt force trauma caused his death.

Cook was a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Minnesota man faces terror charge for allegedly joining IS

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man accused of joining the Islamic State group has been returned to the United States and faces a terrorism charge after spending more than a year in Syrian custody with alleged IS fighters, according to documents unsealed Wednesday.

Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, 23, made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, appearing via video from a cell. Authorities say he was vacationing with his family in Morocco in 2015 when he secretly booked a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, and then traveled to Iraq and Syria, where he joined IS.

He was indicted last week on one count of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization.

In court documents unsealed Wednesday, authorities allege that Al-Madioum was a soldier for IS, and that at one point he was assigned to a battalion that was responsible for training and preparing foreign fighters to carry out suicide attacks in Europe. He surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces in March 2019.

His attorney, Manny Atwal, said Wednesday that she was still looking into the case and was meeting with Al-Madioum and his family.

Al-Madioum, who was 18 when he left for Syria, is a native of Morocco and a naturalized U.S. citizen.

He was on summer break from his computer science studies at a Minnesota community college in 2015 when he and his family traveled to Morocco to visit relatives. On July 7, 2015, Al-Madioum skipped dinner saying he wasn’t feeling well, and the next day, he was gone. He left everything behind except his cellphone and passport, according to court documents.

Al-Madioum’s family told the FBI that he called them in August 2015 and said he was working in a hospital in Mosul, Iraq, which was then under IS control. His family later told investigators that Al-Madioum had been in contact with them again, saying he had moved to Raqqa, Syria, married the widow of an IS fighter and had a child with her.

According to court documents, the Department of Defense obtained one IS document that identifies Al-Madioum as a soldier. Another IS document showed that by February of 2017, Al-Madioum was listed as injured. When he was detained in 2019, he had two children with him and said his wife had been killed.

While in prison in Syria, Al-Madioum told FBI agents that he lost his right arm in an airstrike. He also said that all IS members were called soldiers.

Speaking to CBS News from the Syrian prison last fall, Al-Madioum said he never fought for the Islamic State group but that he had hopes of becoming a doctor.

“They gave me a blank check to buy whatever I wanted,” said Al-Madioum.

According to court documents, Al-Madioum told the FBI that he got advice about joining IS from a Twitter account that authorities say is known to post IS propaganda. He told the FBI that the Twitter user connected him with someone who told him how to get to Syria.

He said he was smuggled into Syria and then taken to Mosul, where he took first-aid classes and was assigned to work in a hospital. After two months in Mosul, he was injured, but stayed on the IS payroll, according to court documents. He told the FBI that he stayed in Mosul for 18 months and surrendered after IS began to lose territory.

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