American jailed 25 years for trying to join al-Qaeda

2015-04-20 21:06

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New York - An American man from a small community on Long Island was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to trying to join al-Qaeda in Yemen, prosecutors said.

US-born citizen Marcos Alonso Zea, 26, was thwarted in a 2012 attempt to travel to Yemen. He was intercepted by British authorities en route to the Middle East and sent back to New York.

Back home and under FBI surveillance, he then encouraged a friend, Justin Kaliebe, to travel to Yemen to wage jihad.

After Kaliebe was arrested at New York's JFK airport in January 2013, Zea attempted to destroy extremist material on his computer, including al-Qaeda's online English-language magazine, Inspire.

He was arrested in October 2013 and has been in custody ever since. Prosecutors said he was sentenced at a federal courthouse in Central Islip close to his home in Brentwood on Long Island.

Attorney Loretta Lynch, who has been waiting months for her confirmation vote as the next US attorney general, said Zea was "a chilling reminder" of the danger posed by homegrown terrorists.

"Born, raised and schooled in the United States, the defendant nevertheless betrayed his country," said Lynch, currently attorney of the eastern district of New York.

Zea pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation and obstructing justice.

Prosecutors said he plotted as early as 2011 to wage violent jihad in Yemen, the ancestral home of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and the base of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which the US considers the most dangerous franchise of the jihadist network.

AQAP has recently exploited chaos in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Shiite rebels fighting the Yemeni government to make a series of territorial gains.

Read more on:    us  |  terrorism

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