Federal agents have charged a 19-year-old man from a Chicago suburb with attempting to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State.
Agents arrested Mohammed Hamza Khan at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Vienna en route to Turkey. A criminal complaint alleges that Khan, who appeared in court Monday, intended to travel by bus to a transit point where he would meet an Islamic State contact who would get him into Syria.
Khan, a U.S. citizen from the southwest Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, is charged with attempting to provide material support to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is also known as ISIL and ISIS, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Federal prosecutor Matthew Hiller did not say during Khan’s initial court appearance how authorities were tipped off about Khan’s intentions.
Federal agents who searched the home where Khan lived with his parents and siblings found several handwritten documents expressing support for the Islamic State, FBI special agent Dana McNeal said in an affidavit filed in court Monday. One notebook appeared to contain a “to do” list, including purchasing a $4,000 ticket to Istanbul and having cash for a hotel in Istanbul and a bus ride to cities near the Syrian border.
Agents said they also recovered a letter to Khan’s parents explaining his travel and asking that they not contact authorities. In a car used by Khan but owned by his father, agents said they found a notebook with words and symbols referring to ISIL.
“FIRST and FOREMOST, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO NOT TELL THE AUTHORITIES For if this were to happen it will jeopardize not only the safety of us but our family as well,” the letter addressed to Khan’s parents said.
After explaining his reasons for traveling to Syria, including his distress at having to pay taxes that would support the killing of his “Muslim brothers and sisters,” Khan invited his family “to join me in the Islamic State,” the criminal complaint said.
He also allegedly wrote: “We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this … ”
Khan’s parents attended Monday’s hearing. They declined to speak with reporters.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Aamer Madhani and Donna Leinwand Leger