A Queens man pleaded guilty Wednesday to traveling to the Middle East to try to join the Islamic State group and expressed support online for its leaders and their extremist acts, federal authorities said.
Parveg Ahmed, 22, of Ozone Park, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn before U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly to attempting to provide material support or resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
The Sunni Muslim group, also known as ISIS and Daesh, is a global jihadist organization that splintered off from al-Qaida and launched terror campaigns in several countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, according to experts and officials.
Ahmed faces up to 20 years in prison. His attorney declined to comment Wednesday evening.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office, and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD announced the guilty plea Wednesday.
Court documents show that Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen, traveled to Saudi Arabia in June 2017 and tried to join the Islamic State in Syria, where the group has been fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that broke out in March 2011.
U.S. law enforcement officials said Ahmed was apprehended in a country bordering Syria while traveling to ISIS-controlled territory and was deported on Aug. 28, 2017, to the United States, where he was arrested at Kennedy Airport.
An investigation into Ahmed’s actions revealed that he “expressed support on social media for ISIS and for individuals who provided support to the foreign terrorist organization’s mission of violent extremism,” according to the news release.
Joint Terrorism Task Force agents who searched Ahmed’s computer found he had viewed or listened to recordings of radical Islamic clerics such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Abdullah el-Faisal, officials said.
Al-Awlaki, who was killed in September 2011, in Yemen, was a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. El-Faisal is a Jamaican-born cleric who officials said was found guilty in the United Kingdom of, among other things, solicitation to commit murder, “preaching to followers to kill individuals, including Americans, because he deemed them to be enemies of Islam.”