A Pakistani man has been sentenced to seven years in prison in the US for attempting to provide material support and resources to Jabhat al-Nusrah, an alias name for the terror group Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Basit Javed Sheikh, 39, of North Carolina was sentenced to 84 months imprisonment followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He had pleaded guilty to the charge in August and since he is not a natural born citizen of the US, he faces possible automatic removal from the country. Sheikh had been living for years in the US as a legal permanent resident.
The affidavit to the complaint describes multiple Facebook postings by him in 2013, expressing support for Jahbat al-Nusrah. He posted articles acknowledging that Jahbat al-Nusrah had been designated by the US as a terrorist group.
In mid-2013, Sheikh sought out a relationship with an individual online whom he believed could assist him in travelling to Syria in support of violent jihad. This individual informed him of another person described as a member of Jabhat al-Nusrah able to assist Sheikh. In reality, both of these individuals were working with and for the FBI.
Sheikh reached out to the individual he believed to be a Jabhat al-Nusrah member and expressed his desire to travel to Syria in order to "help the mujahideenin any way I can."
When asked how he wanted to help, Sheikh responded "logistics, media, fight too."
Believing that the FBI covert employee would be able to assist in smuggling him from Lebanon into Syria, Sheikh purchased a one-way ticket with a final destination of Lebanon and a departure from Raleigh-Durham Airport in November 2013. He was arrested prior to boarding his flight.
"Our security as a nation, as a state, and as a local community requires vigilance against the hateful rhetoric and goals of groups and persons who hijack the tenets of any religion towards their own violent purposes," US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert Higdon said.
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