Florida man sentenced to 20 years for seeking to join al Qaeda group

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 6:46 PM

(Reuters) - A Florida man was sentenced to two decades in prison on Wednesday for conspiring to train for an Islamic holy war or jihad and traveling to the Middle East intending to fight with an al Qaeda-affiliated group, according to court records.

Shelton Thomas Bell, 21, pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

In a plea agreement announced in Jacksonville, he admitted to recruiting a juvenile to join a jihad. In September 2012, the two flew from Jacksonville to the Middle East, planning to go to Yemen to join the Ansar al-Sharia group.

“We must be vigilant in investigating and prosecuting United States citizens who seek to travel overseas to assist terrorists," U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley for the Middle District of Florida said in a statement.

Following his release, Bell faces a lifetime of supervision. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Eric Walsh)