Hawaii resident charged in international terrorism case

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man who moved from New York to Hawaii a year and a half ago is at the center of an international terrorism investigation. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, is suspected of traveling to Pakistan in an effort to join the Taliban or a similar group, and is charged with making false statements to FBI investigators.

The defendant, who was arrested Friday, is currently in custody at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu awaiting transfer to New York, where the criminal complaint was unsealed Monday.

The 18-page document alleges that in early 2008, Shehadeh bought a one-way ticket from JFK International Airport in New York to Islamabad, Pakistan in order to join a fighting group, such as the Taliban. He was denied entry into the country and returned to the US.

Investigators say when Shehadeh was questioned by the FBI and New York City detectives about the purpose of his trip, he initially lied saying it was to attend a wedding, but later confessed to his motives.

According to court papers, the defendant went to the Swat Gun Club in Waikiki to practice firing various weapons, and also created multiple web sites dedicated to spreading violent Jihadist ideology.

"It is important to note that at no time was there any evidence of a terrorist plot targeting the Hawaiian islands in this case," Charlene Thornton, FBI Honolulu Special Agent-in-Charge, said.

Shehadeh also allegedly tried to enlist in the US Army in hopes of getting deployed to Iraq, where he could then desert the US and fight alongside Iraqi insurgent forces.

He faces up to eight years in prison, if convicted of the offense of "making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism."

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