November 12th, 2013
05:51 PM ET

North Carolina man allegedly tried to help Syrian jihadist group

By Bill Mears

A North Carolina man has become the latest American charged in federal court with attempting to assist an al Qaeda militant group involved in Syria's civil war.

Basit Javed Sheikh is accused of "providing material support" to a designated terrorist group.

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday says the 29-year-old resident of Cary was arrested at Raleigh International Airport earlier this month, allegedly planning to go to Lebanon.

Prosecutors claim Sheikh was prepared to join the group Jabhat al-Nusrah, or al-Nusrah Front, designated last year by the State Department as a foreign terror organization.

The radical Islamist group has been linked to several hundred attacks in major cities across Syria, in an effort to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has publicly confirmed that group's formal links with al-Nusrah.

Other more mainstream opposition groups have also been locked in a monthslong civil war with the ruling government.

Basit has been appointed two public defenders and was ordered by a magistrate to remain in custody without bail. Calls to his lawyers for comment were not returned.

There was no indication the man's alleged acts were part of a larger terror conspiracy.

An FBI affidavit included in the charges said the defendant allegedly told a government informant he wanted to participate in jihad and had arranged to join "a brigade in logistics, managing medical supplies."

Court documents show the Pakistani native was an active user of online community sites such as Facebook and Skype. One such site promoted Islamic extremism according to prosecutors, where the defendant allegedly made contact with the FBI informant.

Basit reportedly made several attempts to visit the overseas region, including traveling to Turkey in 2012, hoping to go across the border and join various rebel forces in Syria.

He returned to North Carolina weeks later, discouraged by the focus on money by the Free Syrian Army, a more moderate, secular rebel force.

The affidavit states Basit told the informant he was prepared to die as a martyr and "would continue to feel like a hypocrite until he went on jihad."

It was over the summer his plans reportedly escalated, having the informant put Basit in contact with a "trusted brother" to facilitate his efforts to join mujahadeen groups in Syria, inclduing al-Nusrah. That contact turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

He faces 15 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if convicted of all the charges.

Basit is the third person charged separately this year with providing material support to Jabhat al-Nusrah.

Two other men were arrested in Chicago and suburban Washington. One, U.S. Army veteran Eric Harroun, reached a plea deal with prosecutors and was released from custody.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Eric

    Alright. Lets just deport everyone with a long scraggly beard. Sure, a few homeless people will end up in the mix, but it'll be worth it in the end.

    November 15, 2013 at 6:07 am | Reply
  2. PeterPaulAndMerryXmas

    With all those TeaPartiers & gun nuts in NorthCarolina, you'd think at least one would be happy to make this guy a martyr right here. Save him a trip to Syria.

    November 14, 2013 at 2:15 am | Reply
    • Teejer

      I am sure the guys in the prison yard will throw a little welcome party for him.

      November 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  3. John

    *Ali Khamenei the Supreme Leader of *Iran has over $95,000,000,000 of blood money while his people die of poverty.

    November 14, 2013 at 1:15 am | Reply
  4. larry

    All jihadists are bad news. They are the worst of the worst. Who do you think are maiming and killing our soldiers in Afghanistan? I hope he gets life. They hate us and deserve nothing but death.

    November 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  5. Tom

    Didn't Senator McCain provide material items to the Syrian rebel terrorists as well?

    November 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  6. Gulf War Vet 1991

    It's all very confusing! The US had "Advisers" helping Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when Russia occupied them, then they were our enemies in the 90's and after the W.T.C. attack, now our government is helping them with the Assad government, but it's illegal for a private citizen to help in any way under penalty of fines and imprisonment... Yes,... confusing!

    November 13, 2013 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • Jim Oliver

      Come on people we have to arm them so we can fight them later. We've got to make sure our Defense budget is larger than the next 20 countries combined. I mean we have 1000s of Defense contractors who must be paid and maybe the Military will get a little too. Case in point the last two ships(That's are full of glitches)over runs the Navy has.

      November 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Reply
      • Quinton

        Well said, Jim. Very true, too!

        November 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  7. R. Wilson Reagan

    How ironic this is! The federal government arrests this man who was doing exactly what Obama and his right-wing henchmen are and have been doing all along, aiding and abetting the riff raft who are trying to oust the Assad regime in Syria! Does this reek of a double standard or what?

    November 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Reply
    • Random

      Good point. We are arming them so the administration is guilty of actually doing what this guy was charged with trying to do.

      November 13, 2013 at 5:46 am | Reply
    • Dustan

      Why would Obama have right wing henchmen? Clearly you're uninformed in the most blatant sense of the word.

      November 13, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
      • Quinton

        Do you follow Obama's foreign policies, Dustan? That says it all.

        November 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  8. sjdsh

    CNN —12/11/2013
    A North Carolina man,Basit Javed She ikh,has become the latest American charged in federal court with attempting to assist an al ciaduh militant group actively involved in US's 2 1/2 year 'covert' war on Syria.
    He is the third Merkan charged separately this year with providing material support to Jabhat al-Nusrah. 29-year-old resident of Cary was arrested at Raleigh International Airport earlier this month.Basit was active user of online community sites promoting Islamic extremism.Two other men were arrested in Chicago and suburban Washington. U.S. Army veteran Eric Harroun, reached a plea deal with prosecutors,was released.
    Mr Basit,"truly inspired by the efforts of Sen McInsane" was in contact with a "trusted brother" to facilitate his efforts to join mujahadeen groups in Syria, includuing al-Nusrah. His contact turned out to be an undercover FBI. He now faces 15 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if convicted of all the charges.

    November 12, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Well said, sjdsh. This is not fair!

      November 13, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply

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