A Jordanian citizen who appeared Thursday in a United States court on charges he attempted to travel to Syria to fight with the Islamic State group has been watched by federal investigators since January when he tried to get into the Turkish embassy in Washington, court records show.
Laith Waleed Alebbini, 26, appeared in federal court in Dayton, Ohio, a day after he was arrested at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky. Prosecutors said he was trying to fly to Turkey or Jordan before joining up with the militant organization.
Alebbini is in the U.S. legally on permanent resident status, and most recently had been living in Dayton. He remained in custody Thursday on charges he attempted to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, and his case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing May 11. Court documents did not show whether he has an attorney.
According to the criminal complaint, the government began investigating Alebbini after he was arrested Jan. 10 on a charge of unlawful entry of the Turkish embassy in Washington. That charge was later dropped.
Alebbini said at the time he was being removed from the embassy that “you are going to regret this,” the complaint said. Two days afterward, he traveled to Turkey but was denied entry because his passport had expired.
About two weeks later, the FBI interviewed him and, during that conversation, he said he agreed with the Islamic State’s goal of a united Middle East but disagreed with their violence, and went on to say “I am the perfect recruit for ISIS,” according to the complaint.
Alebbini also said in that conversation that he went to the embassy because he wanted to speak with the ambassador about the conflict in the Middle East.
Prosecutors said in their complaint that Alebbini spoke often with a confidential informant over the last two months about the Islamic State and began talking in late March about plans to travel to the Middle East to fight with the group.
An FBI agent said he learned that Alebbini planned to travel to Turkey this week and authorities then moved to arrest him.
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