American man charged with trying to join al-Qaeda in Syria

American man charged with trying to join al-Qaeda in Syria
Tue Nov 12, 2013 20:28:41

An American man from North Carolina is facing federal charges that he sought to join an al Qaeda-linked militant group fighting against Syrian government.

Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, of Cary, is charged in a federal criminal indictment with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

He was arrested on Nov. 2 before boarding the first of a series of flights that would take him to Lebanon.

According to the indictment, between April and the time of his arrest, he was arranging to provide personnel to the al-Nusra Front, according to CBS news.

Sheikh told an FBI informant he was going to join the al-Nusra Front in Syria, an FBI agent said in a sworn affidavit obtained by The Associated Press.

For five months this year, Sheikh, also known as Abdul Basit, posted messages and videos on Facebook expressing support for extremist militants fighting against Syrian army in the bloody, 3-year-old foreign-backed insurgency that has killed more than 100,000 people, said the affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Jason Maslow.

In August, Sheikh began an online relationship with an FBI undercover employee on a Facebook page promoting extremism, the affidavit said.
Sheikh told the covert informant in early September that he'd bought a one-way ticket to travel to Turkey in hopes of making contact with people who would get him to Syria. WRAL reports he said he was ready to be a "martyr."

If convicted, Sheikh could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and fined $250,000.

The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

Since the start of the war al-Qaeda affiliated groups have been emerging under different names in Syria, fighting at the side of the US-backed opposition which is leading one of the bloodiest conflicts in the recent history.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for over two years.


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