Right before he entered the TSA security lines at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Laith Waleed Alebbini, 26, of Dayton, Ohio was arrested Wednesday evening. He was attempting to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS.
According to the FBI, Alebbini is a citizen of Jordan who became a legal permanent resident of the United States in April 2014, after first traveling to the U.S. in July 2011. He was taken into custody by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
According to court documents, on January 10, Alebbini was arrested for unlawfully entering the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C., but those charges were later dropped. Two days later, Alebbini attempted to travel to Turkey via Amsterdam, but because his Jordanian passport had expired, he was denied entry and returned to the U.S. on Jan. 15.
Alebbini connected to a paid FBI informant, which led to his eventual arrest. Recorded conversations between the two reveal that Alebbini made several statements regarding his admiration for ISIS, including, “The best choice is the Islamic State, best choice for the Muslims.”
Alebbini’s family was not supportive of his ISIS affiliation and knew his plans to join them in Syria, so they took away his passport. According to court documents, “Alebbini stated that even if he joins Al-Dawlah (ISIS) and only fires a couple shots before he is killed, it would be good, because he would be inciting the faithful.”
On April 15, Alebbini contacted the FBI, asking if he was cleared to travel overseas and was told there were no restrictions against that. The FBI informant then provided Alebbini and his female partner $1,500 to buy plane tickets from Cincinnati to Chicago then on to Turkey and Jordan, according to court documents. They were apprehended upon their arrival at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and Alebbini appeared in U.S. District Court in Dayton on Thursday.
Alebbini was interviewed by the FBI about the incident at the Turkish embassy in January and allegedly admitted to posting pro-ISIS videos on Facebook and expressed his support for ISIS, saying, “I am the perfect recruit for ISIS,” but claimed not to agree with their violence.
“Alebbini said the security at the embassy was very lax, and that ‘if I had on bomb on me, I swear to God, three embassies would be gone by now,'” accoding to an affidavit. However, instead of being arrested, the FBI released him. He moved to Dayton on March 1 to live with a woman he claimed was his wife. Shortly after that, he became involved with the FBI informant.
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