NEW YORK-- A man accused of lying about a failed plot to join the U.S. military then team up with insurgents in Iraq was jailed without bail on Tuesday after he was brought to New York from Hawaii, where he was arrested last month.
Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, a skinny 21-year-old from Staten Island, didn't enter a plea in Brooklyn federal court to charges he made false statements to U.S. authorities investigating an international terrorism.
There was no immediate response to a phone message left Tuesday with his attorney.
A criminal complaint unsealed last month said the FBI and the New York Police Department had been investigating Shehadeh "and several other individuals in connection with a plot to travel overseas and wage violent jihad against the United States and other coalition military forces."
The complaint alleged that Shehadeh, who was born in the United States, initially caught the attention of U.S. authorities by buying a one-way ticket to Pakistan in June 2008. Once he arrived there, Pakistani officials wouldn't allow him into the country and he returned to New York.
In October 2006, the complaint said, Shehadeh went to Times Square to try to join the Army. It said when a recruiter asked him if he'd traveled overseas, he lied and said he'd only been to Israel.
Later that month, Shehadeh tried to fly from Newark, New Jersey, to Jordan, where he again was denied entry. Once he returned to the United States on a flight to Detroit, counterterrorism investigators confronted him about what they say were radical writings and videos he posted on the Internet.
The complaint said that under questioning, he admitted that one of his websites was "designed to mirror and reformat the teachings of radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki" and "that in the past, he agreed with and sympathized with Al Qaeda's violent jihad against the West."
The complaint said Shehadeh insisted he tried to go to Pakistan for religious, not military, training. But witnesses who knew him told investigators that he instructed them that it was the duty of Muslims to fight jihad -- and that signing up in Times Square was the best way to achieve his goal.
Shehadeh "informed (one witness) that he hoped to be deployed to Iraq," the complaint said. "At the time he was applying to join the military, Shehadeh told (the witness), when he arrived in Iraq, he intended to commit 'treason' and fight United States soldiers."
The complaint said Shehadeh traveled to Hawaii in April 2009. There, he bought an airline ticket to Dubai in June, but was intercepted by FBI agents who told him he was on a "no fly" list. In subsequent interviews, he allegedly admitted he had hoped to join the Taliban and receive "guerrilla warfare" and "bomb-making" training, the complaint said.