American man, 19, ‘attempting to go join ISIS’ arrested at Chicago airport after telling his parents ‘PLEASE MAKE SURE NOT TO TELL THE AUTHORITIES’
Mohammed Hamzah Khan arrested on Saturday attempting to travel to Middle East
Federal authorities claimed in court that they have handwritten documents that prove he supported ISIS
He told federal agents he planned to travel to Syria to join Islamic State
In a search of his home agents found notebooks where he planned the trip
Told FBI agents he was not ever going to return to the United States
If found guilty Khan faces a maximum of 15 years in prison
Suspect: This picture is believed to be that of Mohammed Hamzah Khan – who was arrested on Saturday trying to leave the United States to allegedly join ISIS
An American teenager disgusted with the American way of life has been arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International airport after he allegedly tried to travel to the Middle East to join and fight with ISIS. Federal prosecutors announced on Monday that FBI agents arrested 19-year-old Mohammed Hamzah Khan, of suburban Bolingbrook, on Saturday evening before he boarded a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, via Vienna. They accuse him of attempting to travel overseas to support terrorism which carries a maximum sentence of 15-years and Khan is also charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. On Monday, the slight, bearded Khan appeared in a federal court in orange jail clothes, calmly telling the federal magistrate that he understood the allegations.
The local CBS affiliate in Chicago identified a Facebook account belonging to a Hamzah Khan as that of the would be ISIS recruit. Later, as marshals were leading him away in handcuffs, he turned to smile at his parents at the back of the room. There are about 12 Americans believed to be fighting in Syria right now, FBI Director James Comey said two weeks ago. There are more than 100 Americans who have either tried to go to Syria and were arrested, or went and came back to the U.S., Comey said, without offering more details. According to prosecutors, Khan was trying to fly to Istanbul by way of Vienna when customs officers stopped him while he was going through security at O’Hare’s international terminal. While FBI agents interviewed him there, others executed a search warrant at Khan’s home and found documents he wrote expressing support for the Islamic State group. One page in a notebook had a drawing of what appeared to be an armed fighter with an Islamic State group flag and the words ‘Come to Jihad’ written in Arabic, according to the criminal complaint.
Agents also found a handwritten three-page letter from Khan to his parents in which he informs them he was on his way to Syria and the Islamic State, saying he was upset his U.S. taxes were going to kill his ‘Muslim brothers and sisters,’ the complaint says. ‘We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day,’ the letter says. ‘I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this.’ He also invites his parents to join him one day. Khan purchased the Austrian Airlines ticket to Turkey in late September. Among the notes found at his home were drawings with arrows indicating where he might make border crossings into Syria, the complaint states. It says in the note to his parents, Khan warned them in capital letters, ‘FIRST and FOREMOST, PLEASE MAKE SURE NOT TO TELL THE AUTHORITIES.’ During the FBI interview at the airport, Khan allegedly said he was supposed to reach a contact in Istanbul who would then put him in touch with members of the Islamic State group. Asked by agents what he would do there, Khan allegedly said he would, in the words of the complaint, ‘be involved in some type of public service, a police force, humanitarian work or a combat role.’
Following his arrest, agents searched his home and found the hand-written documents in support of ISIS and a notebook. ‘We are the lions of war,’ wrote Khan according to CBS Chicago. ‘My nation, the dawn has emerged.’ According to the FBI, Khan has become disgruntled that his taxes are being ‘used to kill his Muslim brothers and sisters.’ It wasn’t clear why authorities chose to stop Khan, whether they had been tipped off that day or had been watching him for days in advance. Neither prosecutors nor Khan’s attorney spoke after Monday’s hearing. The United States has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August and in Syria since September, and has been seeking to build a wider coalition to destroy the group. Islamic State has killed thousands and beheaded at least four Westerners while seizing parts of Syria and Iraq. The United States has no specific law preventing individuals from joining such groups, but it has anti-terrorism laws that it has used to prosecute those associated with such groups. If found guilty of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Khan faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.