By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former member of the Army National Guard has been charged with trying to aid Islamic State militants by buying weapons for an attack on U.S. soil, authorities said on Tuesday.
The suspect, Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, 26, of Sterling, Virginia, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Sunday, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The previous day, Jalloh had bought and test-fired a 5.56mm Stag Arms assault rifle at a Virginia gun store. The weapon was rendered inoperable before he left the dealership with it, the statement said.
Jalloh had told an FBI informant in May that the best time for an attack was during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends on Tuesday, it said.
Jalloh, who was born in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, is charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
It was not immediately clear if Jalloh had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
An affidavit said that a now-dead member of Islamic State in March had brokered Jalloh's introduction to an FBI informant. The Islamic State member was plotting an attack in the United States and thought it would be carried out by the informant and Jalloh, it said.
Jalloh, who had bought a Glock 9mm pistol in February, met the informant in April and May. He praised the gunman who killed five U.S. service personnel in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July 2015.
Jalloh said he had been thinking about an attack similar to that carried out by former Army Major Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, the affidavit said.
He gave $500 to someone that he believed was a member of Islamic State but was in fact an undercover FBI employee, the statement said.
Jalloh told the informant that he had quit the National Guard in Virginia after listening to online lectures by U.S.-born al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen in a drone strike widely attributed to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Jalloh had met Islamic State members in Nigeria during a six-month trip to Africa that ended in January. He began communicating with the Islamic State contact during the trip, the affidavit said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Tom Brown)