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Queens man attempted to join Islamic State group, federal prosecutors charge

A Queens man was charged Thursday with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist group.

Federal officials said Ali Saleh, 22, attempted to travel to the Middle East several times and posted on his Twitter account: "I'm ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing."

Saleh tried without success to fly to Istanbul in August 2014, and tried several times to fly to Cairo in July, prosecutors said.

He also went to an Amtrak station in Cleveland in an attempt to take a train to Canada and travel to the Middle East from there, authorities said.

"Saleh was relentless in his attempts to travel to the Middle East to join a terrorist organization," Kelly T. Currie, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Saleh told law enforcement in an interview on Aug. 2 that he became interested in the terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, "because they were having the most success against the regime of Bashar al-Assad currently governing Syria and because they would eventually establish a caliphate," according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

The affidavit said that in another interview Saleh told agents that "his parents did not know that he was attempting to travel overseas and would have been upset with him had they known he was attempting to travel to Yemen," the affidavit said.

Saleh was arrested Thursday at his home in Queens and was held without bail after an appearance in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, officials said.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

With John Riley

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