26-year-old Laith Waleed Alebbini was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday for providing material support to the Islamic State.
“Prosecutors say that he is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. and that he was attempting to fly to Turkey or Jordan before joining up with Islamic State group fighters,” reports the Associated Press.
He was arrested on April 26 at the Cincinnati/Kentucky International Airport, en route to the Middle East via Chicago. After his arrest, he admitted to the FBI that he wanted to travel to Turkey and fight for the Islamic State.
Court documents described Alebbini, a legal permanent resident of the United States from Jordan, as “the perfect recruit for ISIS.” In fact, he described himself that way.
He appeared on the FBI and U.S. Secret Service radar screens in January after illegally attempting to enter the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. He criticized embassy security as lax and said, “If I had a bomb on me, I swear to God, three embassies would have gone down.”
“You are going to regret this,” he threatened as he was escorted from embassy grounds.
He also admitted to posting pro-ISIS videos on Facebook but claimed he did not approve of the Islamic State’s violence.
However, in later conversations with a confidential FBI informant, he expressed approval for ISIS’s hideous murder of a Jordanian pilot by burning him alive, saluted a Jordanian soldier who murdered 7 Israeli girls in 1997. He said,”to Hell with them, let him shoot them” and said he hoped the Islamic State would invade Jordan and behead King Abdullah before proceeding to “free Palestine.”
He professed to be a regular reader of ISIS magazines and a fan of their videos, which had convinced him the Islamic State was the “best choice” for all Muslims. He repeatedly stated a desire to fight and die for ISIS, hoping that his death would inspire other Muslims to join the cause.
The charges against Alebbini were dropped, and he was released. He was even given permission to travel overseas when he called the FBI on April 15. He was arrested when he actually tried to make the trip because the FBI’s sources had provided enough information to indict him for attempting to join ISIS.
That was not his first attempt to travel after the Turkish embassy incident. A mere two days later, he tried to reach Turkey on a flight that went through Amsterdam but was turned back because his Jordanian passport had expired.
Alebbini moved to Dayton in March, having met and married a woman from the area. She was traveling with him at the time of his arrest. She made comments to the FBI informant, who was her employer, that indicated she knew Alebbini planned to ditch his Jordanian travel itinerary when he reached Turkey and travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. According to the FBI, the couple claims to have been married in a private ceremony at a mosque, but they apparently do not have a legal marriage certificate.
There was no news as of Thursday afternoon about any charges against Alebbini’s partner. The FBI takes pains not to reveal her name in the criminal complaint against Alebbini.
The FBI charging document states that Alebbini first came to America in 2011, left the United States for a time, and came back in 2014. He told the FBI informant that his wife was aware he actually planned to move with her to the Islamic State.
He is also quoted saying he planned to throw away his green card because “he believes he was living among apostates who kill Muslims and that it will be used against him on judgment day.” He also said it would be better to spend ten years in prison for trying to support ISIS than live one more year as an American. He could actually be facing up to 20 years in prison.
“Our duty is to support the Islamic State. Those are the words, what is your duty? Jihad. A person is supposed to stay away from the people of sins,” he told the confidential informant.