A man who was arrested in Honolulu back in October 2010 was convicted Monday of making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism, according to the U.S Attorney's office.
According to court documents, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 23, devised a plan in early 2008 to travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan in order join al Qaeda or the Taliban.
In furtherance of his plan, on June 13, 2008, Shehadeh flew on a one-way airline ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Islamabad, Pakistan. After Pakistani officials denied him entry, Shehadeh told investigators from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that he had traveled to Pakistan to visit a university.
However, the true purpose of Shehadeh’s trip was to wage violent jihad against U.S. military forces.
Several weeks after Shehadeh was denied entry to Pakistan, he attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army at the Times Square recruiting station in Manhattan.
Shehadeh’s application was denied when it was discovered that he had concealed his trip to Pakistan on his application. Though Shehadeh claimed that he had tried to enlist for career opportunities and benefits, his true motive was to deploy overseas, where he would commit treason by defecting and fighting alongside insurgent forces.
Over the next several months, in subsequent interviews with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Shehadah continued to lie about the true purpose of his travel.
However, in 2010 Shehadah confessed to FBI agents that he had sought to join a jihadist fighting group. Shehadah was arrested in Honolulu in October 2010.
“Time and again, Shehadeh sought to travel overseas to wage violent jihad against U.S. military forces, going so far as to attempt to infiltrate the U.S. Army,” stated United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “When confronted with his attempts to join a terrorist group and kill American soldiers, he repeatedly lied about his actions and his intentions. Due to the tireless work of our law enforcement partners, the defendant did not succeed in his jihadist goals. We will continue to be vigilant in bringing those who seek to commit terrorist acts to justice.”
Lynch thanked the FBI’s New York and Honolulu Field Offices, as well as the New York City Police Department, for their substantial contributions to the multi-year investigation that led to the defendant’s arrest and conviction.
When sentenced, Shehadeh faces a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.