NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged a Bronx, New York, man with attempting to travel to Syria in order to fight for Islamic State.
Saddam Mohamed Raishani, 30, was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after trying to board a flight to Istanbul via Lisbon, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said.
Raishani is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. He appeared in Manhattan federal court Thursday afternoon and is being held without bail.
One of his attorneys, Sabrina Shroff, declined to comment on the charges.
In January, Raishani told a person who was working as an informant for law enforcement officials that he had previously helped a friend leave New York to join Islamic State, according to a criminal complaint. He said he helped his friend buy supplies, and drove him to the airport, according to prosecutors.
Raishani later told the informant that he regretted not going himself, prosecutors said.
At one point, Raishani told the informant that he had asked his wife whether she would come with him to join Islamic State, but that based on her reaction he decided not to raise the subject again because he feared she might report him to law enforcement, according to the complaint.
He later said that while it was difficult leaving his wife and child behind in the United States, he believed it was the right decision, the complaint said.
The informant put Raishani in contact with an undercover New York City Police Department detective posing as a person who wanted to travel abroad and fight for Islamic State, according to prosecutors.
Raishani then began making plans for the two to travel together, telling the undercover officer that he could pose as a refugee aid worker while Raishani, a home health aid, could pose as a nurse, according to the complaint.
In May, prosecutors said, the informant put Raishani in contact with another person who the informant said would help arrange Raishani’s travel. That other person was actually an undercover FBI employee.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Marguerita Choy