A Long Island teenager who has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges told a federal judge at a secret hearing earlier this year that he had planned as early as 2011 to go to the Middle East to join an offshoot of al-Qaida and fight U.S. troops, according to a court transcript unsealed late Wednesday.
Justin Kaliebe, 18, of Bay Shore and Babylon, pleaded guilty in February at the hearing in federal district court in Central Islip to charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to a foreign terrorist organization, according to officials.
His plea was not revealed by government officials until two weeks ago.
The transcript itself, which was redacted by U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt, adds little to what the government already has said in other court papers about Kaliebe's actions, but the teen himself admits to the charges in brief remarks.
In releasing the 33-page transcript, Spatt said he was deleting language that would harm ongoing investigations, national security or Kaliebe's safety. There are a number of places in the document where wording is blacked out.
"In the fall of 2011, I decided that I wanted to go overseas and join a group that was engaged in fighting against foreign government officials, U.S. troops or coalition forces," Kaliebe said, according to the transcript. "At meetings in Suffolk County, Long Island, I and others discussed different ways we could support such a group . . . by providing money, equipment and ourselves."
Kaliebe then says he was attempting to board a flight to the Middle East at Kennedy Airport in January to join the al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, when federal agents arrested him.
Kaliebe's statement concludes with: "When I was arrested, I was carrying with me an iPad computer and some money, which I . . . planned on and was willing to offer . . . to members of Ansar al-Sharia to help in their efforts."
The "others" were not identified in the redacted transcript. Federal prosecutors have said the Kaliebe case is part of an ongoing investigation.
The redacted transcript was made public at the request of WNBC in New York.