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N.C. man arrested for allegedly attempting to join terrorist group

WASHINGTON — A Pakistani immigrant was arrested at the Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina while attempting to travel to Syria to join the terror organization Jabhat al-Nusrah and provide the group with logistical support and medical supplies on behalf of Al Qaeda in Iraq, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, of Cary, N.C., allegedly told an FBI confidential informant that he had wanted to travel to Syria since April to “help the mujahedin … in any way I can.”

Sheikh, who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., allegedly boasted that he was “serious” about wanting to become a martyr. Instead, he now faces a one-count federal grand jury indictment for attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The charge could bring him up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sheikh was arrested at the airport on Nov. 4 after obtaining a boarding pass and one-way ticket to Lebanon, checking his luggage and proceeding through security screening. He was approaching the gate and about to board when agents seized him. He was indicted the next day, and federal officials at the Department of Justice released the court documents Tuesday.

The records allege that Sheikh posted “numerous” messages on the Internet expressing support for al-Nusrah, which has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 attacks in Syria, many that killed innocent civilians. He also allegedly posted articles acknowledging that al-Nusrah had been classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

He also reached out to a covert FBI employee, the documents said, believing that if he could get to Lebanon the informant could assist him in entering Syria

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richard.serrano@latimes.com

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