A New York City-born man was ordered to return from Hawaii where he was arrested on charges he tried to join the U.S. military at a Times Square recruiting station so he could be deployed to Iraq, desert and fight with anti-American insurgency forces.
Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, was charged with making false statements in the midst of a New York-based terrorism investigation, authorities said Monday.
A U.S. Department of Justice news release said Shehadeh was arrested Friday in Honolulu. A judge there ordered him on Monday to return to Brooklyn to face charges. It was unclear when he would appear in a New York court.
Shehadeh's attorney, Matthew Winter, didn't immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail requesting comment Monday.
"As charged in the complaint, Shehadeh lied about the purpose of his travel to Pakistan, then he lied in his attempt to join the U.S. military, and lied about why he sought to enlist," Janice Fedarcyk, head of New York's FBI office, said in a statement. "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."
A criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn said the FBI and the New York Police Department had been investigating Shehadeh "and several other individuals in connection with a plot to travel overseas and wage violent jihad against the United States and other coalition military forces."
The complaint alleged that Shehadeh, who was born in the United States and lived on Staten Island, caught the attention of U.S. authorities by buying a one-way ticket to Pakistan in June 2008. Once he arrived there, Pakistani officials wouldn't allow him into the country and he returned to New York.
A follow-up investigation found that Shehadeh had created Internet postings and video promoting jihad, the complaint said.
In October 2006, the complaint said, Shehadeh went to Times Square to try to join the Army. It said when a recruiter asked him if he'd traveled overseas, he lied and said he'd only been to Israel.
Later that month, Shehadeh tried to fly from Newark, N.J. to Jordan, where he again was not allowed entry. Once he returned to the United States on a flight to Detroit, counterterrorism investigators confronted him about his radical Internet writings.
The complaint said under questioning, he admitted that one of his Web sites was "designed to mirror and reformat the teachings of radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki" and "that in the past, he agreed with and sympathized with al-Qaida's violent jihad against the West."
The complaint also alleged Shehadeh attempted to recruit another person to join him to train in Pakistan immediately after the two discussed a sermon by al-Awlaki.
The complaint said Shedaheh insisted he tried to go to Pakistan for religious, not military, training. But witnesses who knew him told investigators that he instructed them that it was the duty of Muslims to fight jihad _ and that signing up in Times Square was the best way to achieve his goal.
Shehadeh "informed (one witness) that he hoped to be deployed to Iraq," the complaint said. "At the time he was applying to join the military, Shehadeh told (the witness), when he arrived in Iraq, he intended to commit 'treason' and fight United States soldiers. (He) explained that joining the military was an easier way to join jihad because the military would provide him with training, transportation and a weapon."
The complaint said Shehadeh traveled to Hawaii in April 2009. There, he bought an airline ticket to Dubai in June, but was intercepted by FBI agents who told him he was on a "no fly" list. In subsequent interviews, he allegedly admitted he had hoped to join the Taliban and receive "guerrilla warfare" and "bomb-making" training, the complaint said.
Associated Press writer Greg Small in Honolulu contributed to this report.