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Chicago man faces terror charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Chicago man faces terror charges
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Investigators have charged a U.S. citizen with trying to help two terror groups
  • Shaker Masri faces two counts
  • One charge involves weapons of mass destruction
  • He wanted to "participate in jihad" in Somalia or Afghanistan, feds say

(CNN) -- Federal prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois, have charged a U.S. citizen with trying to provide material support to two terrorist organizations -- al Qaeda and al Shabaab -- and with another charge related to weapons of mass destruction, according to a criminal complaint.

Shaker Masri, 26, tried to violate a law that prohibits U.S. nationals "from using, threatening, attempting or conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States," the complaint said.

The alleged offenses occurred in the last few weeks, it says. Masri was arrested Tuesday and charged Wednesday.

Masri is a U.S. citizen who lives in Chicago, and according to the complaint he has worked for a nonprofit organization that translates the Quran into English.

He has "advocated an extremist and violent interpretation of Islam" in conversations with a confidential source for federal investigators, according to the complaint. He told the source "that he wanted to participate in jihad" in Somalia or Afghanistan, it said.

Al Shabaab is an Islamic extremists group in Somalia that the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization.

According to the complaint, Masri began espousing his increasingly violent views to an individual he befriended in early 2009. In the past month, it is alleged that Masri began to actively plan a trip to Somalia where he hoped to join al Qaeda or al Shabaab and commit a suicide attack targeting "infidels".

Masri told the informant in recorded conversations that he hoped to become a martyr by wearing a suicide vest.

"I will wear one and I will not take it off," Masri is quoted in the complaint.

During numerous recorded conversations in July and August, Masri and a government informant watched jihadist videos and discussed obtaining money to buy guns and airplane tickets. The complaint says Masri told the informant he needed a new laptop, cell phone and between $7,000 and $10,000 for his journey.

Masri corresponded by telephone and online with a British woman whom he professed to love. He said he wanted to visit her on his way to train with terrorist organizations, according to the complaint. The woman repeatedly refused his plans to visit.

On July 29 Masri and the informant purchased two one-way tickets departing Wednesday and flying to Los Angeles, California, with plans to stop in Mexico and other countries on his way to Somalia. He was arrested Tuesday night following an 18-month investigation.

Masri appeared before a Chicago judge Wednesday morning and was formally charged. He is being held without bond pending his next appearance Aug. 9.

If convicted, Masri faces a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison for each count.