An American citizen from Central California has been arrested on charges he sought to fight overseas for the Islamic State group.
Federal prosecutors in New York City announced the arrest of Bernard Augustine of Keyes, California, near Modesto, on Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that before he left the United States, the 21-year-old Augustine repeatedly expressed his support for the Islamic State group and violent jihad. They said a search of his laptop also showed that he researched how to join the group.
He’s accused of traveling in 2016 to Tunisia, where he tried to enter Libya. Prosecutors said he booked a one-way ticket to Tunisia out of San Francisco International Airport, where he told a customs agent he was taking a vacation.
Augustine was captured before he could make it into Libya. He served two years in prison in Tunisia before he was turned over to FBI agents, who brought him back to the U.S.
An examination of Augustine’s laptop turned up evidence that he had been viewing Islamic State group material on the Internet, including a video showing the beheadings of Ethiopian Christians who were kidnapped in Libya, court papers said. He also searched for “jihadology” and “how to safely join isis,” it said.
In addition, Augustine viewed sermons by fiery American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in Yemen who was killed in 2011, the papers said. The online videos of Al-Awlaki have been cited in several U.S. cases as being a dangerous influence on self-radicalized terrorists.
Records show Augustine took a Turkish Airlines flight from San Francisco to Tunisia via Istanbul, Turkey, using a one-way ticket. Once there he emailed a relative in California, telling that person, “I’m not mad or mentally ill, I really truly am on a path to fight for justice,” the papers said.
Augustine made a court appearance later Tuesday in Brooklyn. He is charged with providing material support to terrorists, according to prosecutors.