(NEW YORK) -- A Hawaiian man was arrested last Friday, accused of trying to join the Taliban or a similar group. According to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in the Eastern District of New York, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh is charged with making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism.
According to the complaint, Shehadeh devised a plan in early 2008 to travel to Pakistan to join the Taliban or a similar fighting group. To put the plan into effect, Shehadeh flew on a one-way ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Islamabad, Pakistan on June 13, 2008. But upon landing in Pakistan, he was denied entry by Pakistani officials and returned to the U.S.
Under questioning by FBI agents and New York police detectives, Shehadeh initially said he traveled to Pakistan to visit an Islamic university and to attend a friend's wedding. The complaint alleged he subsequently admitted to FBI agents in Hawaii that the true purpose of his trip to Pakistan was to join a fighting group such as the Taliban. The complaint also alleged Shehadeh attempted to recruit another person to join him immediately after the two discussed a sermon by radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Shehadeh later attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army at the Times Square recruiting station in New York City, but his application was denied when it was discovered he concealed his trip to Pakistan. In addition, the complaint alleged Shehadeh created and administered multiple websites dedicated to spreading violent jihadist ideology.
If convicted, the 21-year-old could face up to eight years in prison.
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