BAY SHORE, N.Y. – An attorney for a young New York man caught boarding a plane to Yemen to fight with an Al Qaeda affiliate tells The Associated Press his client has autism and did not understand the gravity of what he was doing.
Eighteen-year-old Justin Kaliebe pleaded guilty in February to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The federal court proceeding was secret.
But his attorney Anthony La Pinta says his client was diagnosed as child with autism and is awaiting the results of a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. He may seek to withdraw the guilty plea after the results of that evaluation are known.
Kaliebe converted to Islam about three years ago. He appears to have been swept up in the New York Police Department's ongoing investigation into the activities of Muslims throughout the region.