NC Man Charged With Trying to Join al-Qaeda in Syria

Pakistani native had online relationship with undercover FBI worker
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2013 9:37 AM CST
NC Man Charged With Trying to Join al-Qaeda in Syria
Syrians stand near damaged cars at the site after a car bomb attack in Bab Touma neighborhood, a popular shopping district in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/SANA)

A North Carolina man was on his way to Lebanon to join an al-Qaeda-linked group when he was arrested, federal prosecutors say; his father says there's "no truth" in the allegations. Pakistan-born Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, is a legal permanent US resident, the News & Observer reports. He had spent five months posting material on Facebook backing jihadis opposing the Syrian regime, says an affidavit, per the AP. Through the site—which tried multiple times to close his account—he entered into an online relationship with an undercover FBI employee this summer.

Before Sheikh's arrest at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Nov. 2, he revealed plans to join the militant Nusrah Front, says an FBI agent. Sheikh said he'd gotten a job "with a brigade in logistics, managing medical supplies," the FBI says. He had already tried at least twice to join rebel efforts in Syria, traveling to Turkey in 2012, where he joined the Free Syrian Army but was reportedly frustrated with their focus on money. Later, he booked another flight to Turkey, but didn't show up for it. Still, he said "he would not feel good about himself and would continue to feel like a hypocrite until he went on jihad," says the affidavit. (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)

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