Reporting Irene Cornell
NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) - A New York City man sought to travel to Pakistan so he could die as a martyr by fighting jihad against U.S. forces, federal prosecutors said Friday.
WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell On The Case
Federal agents arrested Agron Hasbajrami on Tuesday after he showed up at John F. Kennedy International Airport with a one-way ticket to Turkey.
Hasbajrami, 27, was charged in an indictment unsealed Friday in federal court in Brooklyn. The indictment says he exchanged email messages with a contact in Pakistan and expressed a desire to die as a martyr.
Prosecutors allege that since 2010, Hasbajrami - an Albanian citizen and legal U.S. resident - gave more than $1,000 to an unidentified terrorist group fighting in Afghanistan.
Hasbajrami sent a message to the group earlier this year saying that he wanted to “marry with the girls in paradise” - a phrase authorities say means he wanted to die a martyr.
Initially, Hasbajrami was told he should travel to Pakistan, where he could locate the unidentified group through the Pakistani Taliban, prosecutors say. He obtained a visa and a plane ticket, but ended up canceling the trip late last month.
On Sept. 3, a confidential source working with the FBI contacted Hasbajrami by email, telling him he could help him get to Pakistan, prosecutors say. Two days later, he allegedly bought a one-way plane ticket to Istanbul and told the source he was on his way.
Investigators say when they intercepted Hasbajrami at the airport he was carrying his Albanian passport, a tent, boots and cold-weather gear. He told them “he had intended to travel to Pakistan to fight,” court papers say.
If convicted, Hasbajrami faces up to 15 years in prison.
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