Bangladesh-origin youth accused of trying to join ISIS in US

A 22-year-old American youth of Bangladeshi descent was charged on Tuesday with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, after he flew from New York to Saudi Arabia this spring with the intention, federal prosecutors said, of entering Syria to join the terrorist group.

The man, Parveg Ahmed, flew to Saudi Arabia in early June with a friend, the prosecutors said, ostensibly to celebrate the fasting holiday of Ramadan. But according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, the two men actually planned to travel to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State, or ISIS. They were stopped from entering by officials of an unidentified country that borders Syria, and were taken into custody.

Though it remains unclear how or why the investigation started, prosecutors said that in October 2014, Mr. Ahmed wrote on one of his social media accounts that “jihadis” are “Muslims who fight to establish the Sharia IN THEIR OWN LANDS,” and that Americans “are the real terrorists.”

A few months later, according to the complaint, he posted a message on Twitter saying that “the war on the Islamic State is a war of the ideologies” and sent a private Twitter message to a friend declaring that the only country still working in reverence “to the Almighty is the Islamic State.”

In January 2016, federal agents stopped Mr. Ahmed at Kennedy Airport as he was returning from Bangladesh and questioned him. When the agents confronted him with his social media posts, he claimed that they were made “at a low point in his life and at a time when he was smoking a large amount of marijuana,” the complaint said.

But when the government learned that Mr. Ahmed had been stopped in the Middle East while trying to enter Syria, the agents obtained a warrant for a laptop computer in his home in Queens. The agents searched the laptop last month, the complaint said, and discovered recordings of sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric who was assassinated in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011 but continues to be influential in jihadi circles.

The agents also found a lecture by Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican-born Islamic radical who was charged in absentia on Friday by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with recruiting would-be terrorists.

Just last week, the complaint said, federal agents traveled to the Middle East and interviewed Mr. Ahmed’s friend, who was not identified. The friend claimed that while staying in the unnamed country, Mr. Ahmed had hired a taxi to take them to the city of Idlib in Syria, but had actually meant to go to Irbid, a city in Jordan, the complaint said.

But when the agents searched Mr. Ahmed’s phone, the complaint said, they found photographs of ISIS figures and text messages indicating that the two men were trying to make their way into “ISIS-controlled territories.” The agents also found a text message that Mr. Ahmed had written to members of his family wishing them farewell, the complaint said.

Mr. Ahmed was ordered held without bail on Tuesday by Judge James Orenstein.

Source: The Daily Ittefaq

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