Homegrown Terrorist Is Reminder of the Threat We Face

In counterterrorism, patience can either be deadly or its own reward. In the case of Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, a 21-year old New Yorker from Staten Island, it has proven to be a virtue.

The New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation watched Shehadeh, born in the USA to parents of Palestinian origin, for two solid years, meeting with him on several occasions, before arresting him in Honolulu on Friday and charging him with multiple counts of lying to the FBI, punishable by up to eight years in prison.

Though he is legally innocent ‘til proven otherwise, Shehadeh appears to be an archetypal wanna-be, home-grown jihadist. Though the complaint does not discuss the source of his radicalization, Shehadeh apparently grew increasingly angry after a traffic accident in 1997. Contemplating the emptiness of his young life, he quickly gravitated to extremist interpretations of his Muslim faith.

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From The New York Daily news

A former Staten Island resident has been arrested in Hawaii and will be brought to New York to face charges of lying about a failed attempt to join the Taliban.

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, tried to wage jihad with the Taliban, then schemed to join the U.S. Army so he could be sent to Iraq and defect, authorities said yesterday.

The arrest of Shehadeh on Friday was revealed last night.

According to a Brooklyn federal criminal complaint unsealed last night, he booked a flight in 2008 from Kennedy Airport to Islamabad but was turned away by Pakistani officials when he landed.

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When Abdel Hameed Shehadeh arrived at Kennedy Airport in early 2008, he was carrying a one-way ticket to Islamabad and a backpack with a sleeping bag inside.He was briefly interviewed by federal agents and sent on his way – gone, but not forgotten. The very same day, New York Police Department detectives began surfing the Internet for information about him.

Authorities say the police department’s Intelligence Division investigators found a treasure trove of evidence against Shehadeh that help make the homegrown terror case against him. The evidence, they say, also offered more proof that the Internet has become an incubator for extremism, and demonstrated how a special NYPD unit identifies and tracks cyberthreats.

Shehadeh, 21, failed to get into Pakistan. The New Yorker was arrested last week in Hawaii on charges he made false statements. He was in federal custody and was expected to eventually appear in federal court in New York. No date was set.

There was no immediate response to a message left Tuesday with Shehadeh’s attorney in Honolulu. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment on Tuesday.

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