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Man indicted on terrorism-related charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
Abdel Hameed Shehadeh was arrested in Hawaii in October and brought to Manhattan, where he will be prosecuted.
Abdel Hameed Shehadeh was arrested in Hawaii in October and brought to Manhattan, where he will be prosecuted.
  • Authorities allege Abdel Hameed Shehadeh lied about a planned trip to Pakistan
  • FBI: He intended to join a group such as the Taliban there, but originally claimed otherwise
  • He is a U.S. citizen who was born and raised in New York

New York (CNN) -- A federal grand jury has indicted a Staten Island man on charges that he lied to the FBI about plans to join a jihadist fighting group.

According to the three-count indictment, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh made material false statements to federal agents in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism.

Shehadeh was arrested in Hawaii in October and brought to Manhattan, where he will be prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York.

A message for Shehadeh's attorney was not immediately returned Thursday.

Authorities allege Shehadeh purchased a one-way ticket from New York City to Islamabad, Pakistan, then lied about the intent of his trip.

Shehadeh told investigators that the purpose of his trip was to attend a religious school and attend a friend's engagement party, according to the indictment returned Thursday.

Instead, the indictment says, Shehadeh intended to join a jihadist combat group. A third count says he told an FBI agent that he never told anyone he intended to join a group, even though he allegedly told one or more people that the travel was for that purpose.

A Justice Department complaint unsealed in October said Pakistani officials denied his entry into the country in June 2008, and several weeks later, Shehadeh attempted to join the U.S. Army at a recruiting station in New York's Times Square.

The complaint alleges that Shehadeh wanted to deploy to Iraq, desert and fight against the U.S. military alongside Iraqi insurgents. Shehadeh, who was born and raised in New York, told authorities that he wanted to enlist for career opportunities and benefits, the Justice Department said in a news release in October.

"The real purpose, it is alleged, was not to join U.S. forces, but to wage war against them. Stopping one prospective terrorist can prevent untold numbers of casualties," said Janice Fedarcyk, who heads the FBI's New York office.

The original complaint also alleges that Shehadeh "was the creator and administrator of multiple websites which advocated violent jihad against the west."

To promote one of the sites, according to the complaint, Shehadeh posted on another site: "It is time for the Muslims to start practicing our freedom of speech. ... My brothers of revolution Islam, I am with you as long as you keep struggling. Trust me there are many brothers and sisters in America that are ready to speak up. They just need a push."

The complaint also says Shehadeh purchased an airline ticket to travel to Amman, Jordan, in October 2008, but Jordanian authorities did not not allow him to enter the country.

The complaint does not say why authorities did not allow him to enter Pakistan and Jordan. In 2009, Shehadeh moved to Hawaii and later attempted to travel to Somalia. But U.S. authorities told him he had been placed on a "no-fly" list and could not travel there, according to the complaint.

Shehadeh admitted to FBI agents in Hawaii that he bought the ticket in order to join a fighting group such as the Taliban, according to the complaint.

At his arraignment last month, prosecutors said they would oppose bail because Shehadeh was clearly a flight risk. If convicted of lying to federal authorities in a matter involving international terrorism, Shehadeh faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.