Hawaii man convicted for lying to FBI about jihadist ties

Photo Courtesy: U.S. Marshals Service
Photo Courtesy: U.S. Marshals Service

A man arrested in Hawaii has been convicted of lying to the FBI about plans to join the Taliban or al-Qaida.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - A jury on Monday found Abdel Hameed Shehadeh guilty in federal court in Brooklyn.

Friends of Shehadeh testified that he spoke of wanting to die while waging violent jihad, or holy war, abroad against the U.S. military. They said the former Staten Island resident had hoped to attend a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

The defendant first drew the attention of the FBI in 2008 when he bought a one-way plane ticket to Islamabad. Prosecutors say he later lied by saying he was going to get religious training.

Shehadah was arrested in Honolulu in October 2010. He had moved to Hawaii about year and a half before his arrest.

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," said FBI agent Charlene Thornton during a 2010 interview.

"Time and again, Shehadeh sought to travel overseas to wage violent jihad against U.S. military forces, going so far as to attempt to infiltrate the U.S. Army," stated United States Attorney Lynch. "When confronted with his attempts to join a terrorist group and kill American soldiers, he repeatedly lied about his actions and his intentions. Due to the tireless work of our law enforcement partners, the defendant did not succeed in his jihadist goals. We will continue to be vigilant in bringing those who seek to commit terrorist acts to justice." Ms. Lynch thanked the FBI's New York and Honolulu Field Offices, as well as the New York City Police Department, for their substantial contributions to the multi-year investigation that led to the defendant's arrest and conviction.

He faces up to 21 years in prison at sentencing. No date has been set.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this article)