CHICAGO (Reuters) – A Chicago-area man was charged on Monday with attempting to support a foreign terrorist organisation after he was arrested on Saturday at O’Hare International Airport on allegations he was on his way to Syria to join the militant group Islamic State.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, appeared before US Magistrate Susan Cox in US District Court in Chicago, and she ordered him held pending a detention hearing on Thursday.
Khan was arrested at the airport after he tried to fly to Istanbul on Austrian Airlines, according to the criminal complaint against him from the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Under questioning, he told federal agents he planned to meet a contact in Turkey who would take him to ISIS, or Islamic State, and he expected “to be involved in some type of public service, a police force, humanitarian work, or a combat role.”
Khan also left a note to his family that read in part: “I extend an invitation, to my family, to join me in the Islamic State,” according to the complaint. In the note, Khan wrote that he had an obligation to migrate to territory controlled by the group and he was upset he was obligated to pay taxes that would be used to kill his Muslim brothers and sisters, it said.
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 American and British captives while seizing parts of Syria and Iraq. Islamic State is among groups fighting to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad as are other groups including a US-backed rebel force and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra front. US officials say more than 100 US citizens have made plans to join extremist fighters in Iraq and Syria. Some have gone and come back while others were caught before their departure in recent stings by federal agents. A small number are dead or still fighting.