US Teen Abdella Ahmad Tounisi Arrested for Trying to Join Al-Qaeda
An 18-year-old Illinois man accused of planning to join Al-Qaeda was arrested at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Friday night.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi is suspected of seeking to join the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusrah, a group fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime in the Syrian civil war, the FBI announced Saturday.
The teen, a U.S. citizen from Aurora, was apprehended while attempting to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, near the border of Syria. FBI Special Agent Joan Hyde said Tounisi was given a bus ticket from Istanbul to a city on the border of Turkey and Syria.
The FBI said Tounisi was linked to a 2012 bombing attempt in Chicago. He has not been linked to the Boston Marathon bombings, Cory B. Nelson, head of the FBI office in Chicago, said in a statement.
The FBI discovered Tounisi’s intentions through an internet sting, which used a fake website to recruit would-be terrorists, the federal complaint states.
He is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
"The charges were a result of some online communications that he had with an undercover employee...Mr. Tounisi thought that the individual was a recruiter for the al-Nusra terrorist organization," Hyde told MyFoxChicago.com.
Tounisi apparently had no fighting experience.
"Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest, I do not have any," he allegedly wrote in an email this year. "I'm very small ... physically but I pray to Allah that he makes me successful."
According to the FBI complaint, the website used reads "A Call for Jihad in Syria” at the top, and asks those interested to "come and join your lion brothers ... who are fighting under the true banner of Islam."
Tounisi allegedly researched Jabhat al-Nusrah online. In 2012, the U.S. described the group as an alias for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
His internet searched included “martyrdom operations”; "Terrorism Act 2000"; and "providing material support what does it mean."
Tounisi is being held without bail until a Tuesday court appearance. If convicted he faced up to 15 years in prison.