Florida man charged with trying to join ISIL fighters

The man, who had been on US law enforcement radar for a decade, was arrested earlier this month.

ISIL flag on Syria''s Palmyra
Mohamed Suliman of Gainesville, Florida, is accused of attempting to enter Syria to help ISIL fighters

A Florida man travelled to Turkey and attempted to enter Syria so he could help ISIL (ISIS) fighters, according to an indictment by a federal grand jury.

The grand jury on Tuesday charged Mohamed Suliman, 33, with attempting to provide material support to a designated “foreign terrorist” organisation.

Suliman, of Gainesville, was previously charged last September but the complaint was not made public until the beginning of the month when Suliman was arrested, following his expulsion from a foreign country, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors did not say where he was arrested, though court documents noted he had been living in India.

During a court hearing two weeks ago, a judge ordered him to remain in federal custody.

According to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, in June 2014, Suliman travelled from Gainesville, Florida, to Turkey and tried to enter Syria so he could join up with ISIL fighters.

“Suliman said that if he had reached the above-listed groups, he would have supported them with his English speaking and writing capabilities,” the affidavit said. “Suliman added that he did not support the beheadings and torture that ISIS engaged in, but he was willing to assist and support them in their media section and related duties, and provide financial support.”

Suliman had been on the FBI’s radar for the past 10 years, according to the affidavit. He was interviewed by an agent in Turkey in 2011 and interviewed again in 2018 during a trip to Sudan. During the earlier interview in Turkey, he told the FBI agent he had a bipolar disorder and had stopped taking medication, which led him to be manic or depressed, the affidavit said.

He told FBI agents that when that happens, he goes from having moderate religious beliefs to violent views, according to the affidavit.

Darren Johnson, a lawyer with the Federal Public Defender’s Office appointed to represent Suliman, did not respond to an email inquiry on Wednesday.

The US Attorney’s Office also did not respond to an email inquiry about why there was such a long time lapse between when the original charge was filed last year and when Suliman went to Turkey in 2014.

Source: AP