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Ozone Park man gets more than a dozen years in federal lockup for trying to join ISIS in Syria: Feds

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Ozone Park resident Parveg Ahmed was sentenced to nearly 13 years in a federal lockup for trying to join ISIS in Syria and betray his own country. (AP/File)

An Ozone Park man will serve more than a dozen years in a federal penitentiary for traveling to the Middle East in 2017 in the hopes of joining ISIS in Syria.

Parveg Ahmed, 27, was sentenced Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court to nearly 13 years in prison, five years after he pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State and al-Sham (ISIS).

“Ahmed nearly fulfilled his goal to join a group of violent terrorists who have killed numerous innocent victims, including many American citizens, and expressed that he planned to fight against ‘the West’ if he made it to Syria,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “Today’s sentence demonstrates that a significant prison sentence is the end result for radicalized individuals pursuing a misguided path of terror and violence.”

According to court documents, Ahmed is a U.S. citizen who traveled to Saudi Arabia in June 2017, purportedly to celebrate Ramadan. Upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia, Ahmed attempted to travel to Syria in order to join ISIS but he was captured in a Middle Eastern country as he attempted to reach ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. He was deported back to the United States in August 2017, where he was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Prior to his travels, Ahmed had repeatedly expressed support on social media for ISIS and individuals who provided support to the foreign terrorist organization’s mission of violent extremism. On July 17, 2017, the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force agents obtained a search warrant for Ahmed’s personal computer and learned, among other things, that he had viewed or listened to recordings of radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awalaki, the documents said.

Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born cleric and prominent leader of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed on or about Sept. 30, 2011.

One of the sermons by Al-Awlaki said: “Jihad must continue, and fighting must go on until the Final Hour comes. Fighting is only increasing as prescribed by Allah — now it is time to carry the battle to further lands outside of Arab countries,” according to court documents.

Another cleric’s recordings Ahmed listened to was Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican-born cleric, who was found guilty in the United Kingdom of — among other things — solicitation to commit murder, for preaching to followers to kill individuals, including Americans he deemed to be enemies of Islam. The agents also learned that he researched how to erase data on his computer on the same day that Ahmed left the United States for the Middle East.

The lecture bookmarked on the computer included numerous statements in support of ISIS, jihad, traveling from one’s home country to join ISIS, condemnation of Western countries as evil, and justification of violence against those who are deemed to be non-believers of Islam, according to court documents.

“The defendant willingly traveled overseas in an attempt to join ISIS so he could participate in the group’s violent acts of terror,” Peace said. “The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with our law enforcement partners, remains unwavering in our commitment to protect the American people. Today’s sentence should demonstrate to all, we will continue to ensure those wishing to partake in acts of terror face the consequences in the criminal justice system.”

U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly sentenced Ahmed to 153 months’ imprisonment and 15 years’ supervised release.

“As an American citizen, Ahmed traveled to the Middle East with the sole intention of betraying his own country by taking up arms against it in the name of ISIS,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “Identifying and stopping individuals like this before they can harm the United States and our people are the ideals upon which the Joint Terrorism Task Force was established. I commend and thank the investigators from the NYPD, FBI and all of our partner agencies on the nation’s first JTTF, here in New York City, for their tireless work on this important case.”

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