US national charged with trying to join Somali Shebab

Chesser, 20, has been charged with trying to join Somalia`s Shebab militants.

Washington: A 20-year-old US national has been arrested and charged with trying to join Somalia`s Shebab militants, the latest in a slew of home-grown extremism cases in the United States.

Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, was charged yesterday in a criminal complaint that he provided material support to Shebab, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, the Justice Department said.

Officials said Chesser sought to use his infant son as cover so no one would suspect he was travelling to Africa to join the Shebab, which earlier this month claimed suicide bombings that killed 76 people in Uganda.

According to court documents, Chesser also was linked to a website that called for protests against the creators of satirical cartoon "South Park" for the show`s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed earlier this year.

First interviewed by the FBI in May 2009 about jihadist Internet postings, Chesser was under surveillance when he tried to board a flight to Uganda with his son on July 10 at New York`s JFK airport.

Denied check-in and told he was on a no-fly list, the suspect was allowed to remain at large until his arrest yesterday.

"This case exposes the disturbing reality that extreme radicalisation can happen anywhere, including Northern Virginia," said US Attorney Neil MacBride.

"This young man is accused of seeking to join the Shebab, a brutal terrorist organisation with ties to al Qaeda. These allegations underscore the need for continued vigilance against home-grown terror threats."

In interviews with FBI agent Paula Menges in the days leading up to his arrest, he poured out a stream of valuable information about how the Shebab recruits and trains its foreign fighters, the charge sheet said.

PTI

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