More Details in Terror Support Case Teen Accused of Trying to Join ISIS with 2 Siblings Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 4, 2014 | Go to article overview

More Details in Terror Support Case Teen Accused of Trying to Join ISIS with 2 Siblings Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers


Byline: Robert Sanchez bsanchez@dailyherald.com By Robert Sanchez bsanchez@dailyherald.com

A federal judge has denied bail for a 19-year-old Bolingbrook man, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, accused of trying to fly to Turkey with two siblings to join the Islamic State group.

Judge Susan Cox ruled Monday in Chicago that Khan should be held because she considers him a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Khan has been jailed since his Oct. 4 arrest at O'Hare International Airport as he and his teenage sister and brother attempted to board a plane to Austria. From there, they were planning to fly to Turkey, authorities said.

Khan is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Neither of his siblings has been charged.

If convicted, Khan could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison and fined up to $250,000.

Investigators say Khan, who was born in the suburbs to Indian parents, left a letter for them in his bedroom expressing disgust with Western society. His then 17-year-old sister and 16-year-old brother left similar letters. In their letters, all three urged their parents not to call police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hiller said Khan felt obligated by his religious beliefs to abandon his parents and his country to join a terrorist organization. Khan developed the plan to take "his high

school-age siblings to a war zone," Hiller said.

But Khan's attorney, Thomas Durkin, described the trio as "kids" who were misled by information found on the Internet. He said Khan's judgment was "somewhat clouded."

"He's a very devout, committed, thoughtful kid who bought into some very slick advertising," Durkin told reporters after the hearing.

On the day of his arrest, Khan went to O'Hare with his siblings and three round-trip tickets to Turkey that he had purchased for $2,600.

After Khan arrived at the airport, law enforcement agents watched him pass through the security screening checkpoint at O'Hare's international terminal. He initially was approached by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and then was interviewed for three hours by FBI agents at the airport, according to a federal complaint.

Prosecutors said Khan's siblings also were detained. The teens gave conflicting stories about why they were traveling to Turkey.

Khan's parents didn't know their children were planning to leave. When authorities arrived at the home, the mother told them she thought one of her children was still there.

After his arrest that night, Khan was interviewed by FBI agents at the airport. Khan told those agents he was planning to meet someone in Istanbul who would take him to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, according to the federal complaint.

When asked what he was going to do there, Khan said he expected to be involved "in some type of public service, a police force, humanitarian work, or a combat role."

Durkin said evidence shows Khan and his siblings wanted to go live in the caliphate, "which isn't a crime."

After the hearing, Durkin said there isn't sufficient evidence to show Khan tried to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

"I don't think the evidence is clear-cut that he was going to be a fighter," Durkin said.

But in her ruling, Judge Cox said there is strong evidence to support the government's claim Khan was planning to join the Islamic State.

Because Khan was compelled by his religious beliefs to leave and never come back -- and because he's facing serious punishment if convicted -- Cox said he is a flight risk.

She said she narrowly found Khan to be a danger to the community, in part, because of writings he made before attempting to leave. The judge said Khan expressed scorn for other Muslims who don't share his beliefs in jihad.

While Khan was at the airport, federal agents searched his home and found multiple handwritten documents that appeared to be drafted by Khan or others expressing support for the Islamic State group, according to the federal complaint. …

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More Details in Terror Support Case Teen Accused of Trying to Join ISIS with 2 Siblings Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers Terror: Judge Rejects Defense Attorney's Portrayal of Teenagers
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