A Connecticut man was arrested after telling people he was planning to leave the country to join ISIS, federal prosecutors say.
Ahmad Khalil Elshazly — an American citizen — began talking about traveling to Jordan and then making his way into Syria last year, a Department of Justice news release says. He made the comments in person and online, the release says.
“Elshazly was bent on supporting ISIS. Worried that his efforts here would be too small and that he would be stopped at the airport, he planned to travel overseas aboard a container ship to join and fight for ISIS,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.
He wanted to travel by ship to Turkey because he was worried he’d be stopped by authorities at an airport, the release says.
By February, the 22-year-old said he had saved about $1,000 for his journey. He paid someone $500, thinking the money would be used to pay for a part of his trip, the release said. He was arrested Sunday in Stonington, Connecticut, where he thought he was heading to board a ship.
CNN has reached out to the Department of Justice and the public defender’s office. It was not immediately clear whether Elshazly had an attorney.
“It is crucial the citizens of Connecticut, and across the country, know we at the FBI and our task force partners are unwavering in our work to successfully identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities, as this case demonstrates,” Brian C. Turner, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division, said.
He has been charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization, the release says, and could face up to 20 years in prison.
He said he wanted the US to ‘burn,’ DOJ says
Earlier this year, in a public meeting with others, Elshazly said, “They say, War has started and we are marching to it…..but all doors are closed, closed. I am talking to myself now, asking myself, How do I get there? How can I help Muslims? How can I do anything,” according to the release.
He said he wanted the US to “burn the same way they burned Muslims,” the release said.
When others told him to speak quietly because they were in a public space he said “I am not scared,” the release says.
A little later, he said, “It is more benefiting if I go there, I could kill more and will get more faithful rewards.”
The department also said Elshazly sent a series of videos to someone else explaining “how various high-powered firearms and other weaponry work.”