Pak-American man charged with attempting to join al Qaeda
A Pakistani-American man has been charged with trying to join an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group after he was caught in an FBI sting on Facebook telling undercover operatives he was on his way to join rebels in Syria.
Washington: A Pakistani-American man has been charged with trying to join an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group after he was caught in an FBI sting on Facebook telling undercover operatives he was on his way to join rebels in Syria.
Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, from North Carolina, is charged in a federal criminal indictment with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation. If convicted, Sheikh could face up to 15 years in prison besides a USD 250,000 fine.
He was arrested on November 2 at an airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Lebanon.
Sheikh was being held without bond yesterday after he told undercover operatives in an FBI sting on Facebook that he was on his way to join al Qaeda fighters in Syria, NBC News reported today.
The sting that nabbed Sheikh involved a Facebook account set up by a confidential FBI source and an undercover operative posing as a "trusted brother" of Jabhat al-Nusrah, a predominantly Sunni Muslim jihadist organisation fighting to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The US State Department has designated al-Nusra as a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.
According to the FBI affidavit, Sheikh repeated his eagerness to join the terrorist group in numerous private Facebook messages.
Eventually, he and the undercover operative worked out a plan to coordinate and finance Sheikh`s travels to join the group to help out with "logistics, media, fight too, God willing," the affidavit says.
"I want to help in any way I can," Sheikh wrote, according to the affidavit, adding: "I`m serious (brother). ... I`m not scared. ... I`m (sic) have thought it out. ... I`m ready."
He made no efforts to hide his fervor, according to the affidavit, which recounted Sheikh`s multiple attempts beginning in April to set up Facebook pages reposting jihadist propaganda, only to have them taken down by Facebook as inappropriate.
Little information about Sheikh himself was available yesterday.
According to the affidavit, Sheikh`s immigration records showed that he lived in the Seychelles from 1992 to 2000. Other government records show that Sheikh has lived in Cary with several other family members since August 2008. It wasn`t clear where he was from 2000 to 2008.
Rebels are fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The 3-year-old civil war has killed over 100,000 people, according to the United Nations.