NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Federal authorities announced Wednesday a high school student from Long Island pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his plans to travel to Yemen to volunteer to fight for an al Qaeda offshoot.
The case against American citizen Justin Kaliebe was announced on Wednesday. The 18-year-old pleaded guilty in February to providing material support to a terrorist organization.
Authorities wouldn’t say why that plea was kept secret. They say the investigation is ongoing.
A criminal complaint says that during conversations with undercover investigators, Kaliebe talked about his desire to join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula so he could wage jihad, or holy war.
According to the recordings, Kaliebe said he’d been inspired by Osama Bin Laden who, he said, showed how he could bring an entire nation to its knees.
He also told the undercover officers that he wasn’t afraid to die a martyr, according to the criminal complaint.
“Kaliebe attempted to turn his back on his country and align with radical terrorists. His goal was to travel overseas to wage violent jihad against Yemeni and U.S. forces opposed to al-Qaeda,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a news release. ” While the Internet has made worlds of knowledge available to all, unfortunately it is also used as a platform for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to spread their poisonous propaganda. Terrorists continue to exploit this free and open medium to persuade United States citizens and others to carry out attacks, both here and abroad. We must and will use every tool to identify and disrupt potential attackers before they strike.”
U.S. agents arrested the Babylon and Bay Shore resident on January 21 at John F. Kennedy Airport as he was boarding a flight to Oman.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said this case shows that home-grown terror continues to be a concern.
“That is why the NYPD Intelligence Division continues to track individuals allegedly evincing support for terrorism, and, that is why we worked in close cooperation with the JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] to apprehend this suspect,” he said in a statement
Kaliebe faces a maximum of 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced.
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