CHICAGO (AP) — A U.S. teenager has been arrested on terrorism-related charges and accused of seeking to join an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in war-torn Syria, the FBI said Saturday.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, was arrested Friday night as he attempted to board a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Turkey, which borders Syria, the FBI said.
The head of the FBI office in Chicago, Cory B. Nelson, said in a statement announcing the arrest that there are no links between Tounisi’s case and the bombings at the Boston Marathon earlier in the week.
Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum 15-year prison term.
Tounisi carried out research online about Jabhat al-Nusrah, or Nursa Front, which is a well-organized rebel faction fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in a bloody civil war, the complaint says. The U.S. government has designated the group a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as an alias for the group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Neither the complaint nor the FBI statement includes the name of an attorney for Tounisi.
According to the FBI, Tounisi made contact over email last month with an FBI employee posing as a Nursa Front recruiter and expressed “his willingness to die for the cause.”
The complaint also says Tounisi is a friend of Adel Daoud, another Chicago-area man who was arrested last year on charges he sought to detonate a device he thought was a bomb outside a downtown bar.
Daoud has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.
The complaint does not accuse Tounisi of playing a role in the alleged attack planned by Daoud, though it does say the two friends discussed “techniques and targets” before Daoud’s arrest.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.