A California man who entered the United States as a refugee from Syria and then returned to fight pleaded guilty to charges of terrorism in a US court on Wednesday.
Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, 25, told a federal court in Chicago that he flew to Turkey in November 2013 and then entered Syria. There he joined Ansar al-Islam.
“I wanted to do the right thing … to defend the Syrian people,” Jayab told US District Judge Sarah Ellis in broken English.
He returned to the United States in January 2014. In addition to joining the terror-listed organization, Jayab was accused of using social media to contact others about going to Syria.
He allegedly told an unnamed individual, “Hey man, please do not die: wait for me to come . . . Do you not want us to work together?”
The person replied in April 2013, “Of course.” And Al-Jayab allegedly wrote, “I do not want anything in the world, just to get to Syria safely and find you there . . . I am eager to see blood.”
He was arrested by US federal authorities in January 2016.
His attorney said after the hearing that Jayab wanted to help fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and argued for the case to go to trial; however, his client entered the guilty plea against his lawyer’s, Thomas Durkin advice.
Jayab faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 26, 2019.
He has been nicknamed the “hipster terrorist” because of his hair beard, and clothing.
Prosecutors had evidence claiming that he had written, “America will not isolate me from my Islamic duty.”