A 21-year-old Hawaii man is in federal custody awaiting transport to New York to answer to charges that he traveled to Pakistan to join the Taliban and lied about it when U.S. officials questioned him about the trip.
The FBI said its agents arrested Abdel Hameed Shehadeh on Friday at his residence in Honolulu. Shehadeh is a U.S. citizen who was born and raised in New York.
He is wanted in New York on federal charges that he made false statements in a matter involving domestic and international terrorism.
Shehadeh appeared yesterday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, where he waived his rights to any proceedings that might delay his transfer to New York.
His lawyer said Shehadeh wishes to return to New York as quickly as possible to answer to the charges against him.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed in a U.S. District Court in New York yesterday, Shehadeh took a one-way flight to Islamabad, Pakistan, from New York on June 13, 2008. He returned to the U.S. two days later after Pakistani officials denied him entry.
The FBI said Shehadeh told them before he left for Islamabad and after he returned that he went to Pakistan to attend an Islamic school and a friend’s engagement party. He denied going to Pakistan to receive military-type training or join a jihadist terrorist group.
However, he told two witnesses that he went there to join the Taliban or any other jihadist group to fight the United States, and even tried to persuade one of the witnesses to join him, the FBI said.
Shehadeh tried to enlist in the U.S. Army in October 2008. He told investigators he wanted to join the Army for career opportunities and benefits.
But the FBI said Shehadeh told witnesses he wanted to join the Army in the hope of getting deployed to Iraq, where he would commit treason and fight U.S. soldiers.
THE ARMY rejected Shehadeh’s application for failing to disclose his trip to Pakistan.
Later in October 2008, the FBI said, Shehadeh flew to Amman, Jordan, from Newark, N.J., but was forced to return when Jordanian officials refused him entry.
The FBI said Shehadeh traveled to Maui from New York in April 2009.
In June 2009 he tried to travel to Somalia through Denver and Washington, D.C., and Dubai but was unable to board his flight from Maui because his name was placed on the no-fly list.
The FBI said Shehadeh met with its agents several times in February and April this year to try to persuade them to remove his name from the no-fly list. The FBI said it led Shehadeh to believe they were using him as an informant.
In October 2009, Shehadeh visited a Honolulu gun club where, the FBI said, he fired multiple types of firearms, including an M-16 assault rifle, a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a 9 mm pistol, a .44 Magnum and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. He also tried to persuade a witness there to travel to Yemen to learn Arabic "on the battlefield," the FBI said.
The government says Shehadeh also created multiple websites advocating jihad.