BEIRUT

Middle East

Pakistani faces US terror charge, wanted to fight in Syria

This undated photo shows Basit Javed Sheikh. Sheikh, 29, of Cary, N.C., a Pakistani native living in the U.S., is facing federal charges that he sought to join an al-Qaida-linked militant group fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. He is charged in a federal criminal indictment with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He was arrested on Nov. 2 before boarding the first of a series of flights that would take him to Lebanon. (AP Photo/The New

WASHINGTON: A Pakistani living legally in the United States has been charged with attempting to join an Al-Qaeda linked militant group after falling for an FBI sting, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, contacted an undercover FBI agent, believing him to be a member of Jabhat al-Nusrah, which the State Department identifies as a Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate.

According to the US attorney's office in North Carolina, where Sheikh was charged last week, he expressed his wish to go to Syria "to help the mujahideen...in any way I can."

Asked how he planned to help, Sheikh responded "logistics, media, fight too, God willing," according to the statement.

According to a 25-page affidavit from FBI agent Jason Maslow, Sheikh told him in an online voice call that he was ready to "be a martyr" for the struggle.

The agent also described how, starting in April 2013, the Pakistani posted several times on Facebook in support of Jabhat al-Nusrah, one of Syria's most prominent armed Islamist groups.

Sheikh was arrested on November 2 at the Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina just before boarding a plane.

The destination on his one-way ticket was Beirut, Lebanon, and he allegedly planned to cross the border into Syria, believing that the undercover FBI agent would be able to help.

If he is found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years supervised release.

 

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