CHICAGO — An Illinois teenager who lived with his parents just outside of Chicago has been arrested after attempting to leave the country to join the Islamic savage group ISIS, also identifying themselves as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, was taken into custody by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on Saturday at the O’Hare International Airport as he waited to board a flight to Vienna. Reports state that the teen planned to ultimately arrive in Turkey, where he would cross the border into Syria and either join ISIS there or in neighboring Iraq.
Federal agents searched Khan’s home and found handwritten notes stating his support for ISIS and jihad, as well as outlining his travel plans overseas. One document was a letter that he had penned to his parents, which he had left in his bedroom to be found after his departure.
“My dear parents, there are a number of reasons I will be going to the blessed land of Shaam [Syria] and leaving my home,” it read, according to a federal complaint. “We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this.”
The letter also expressed Khan’s concerns about being obligated to pay U.S. taxes that would be used to kill his “Muslim brothers and sisters.” The teen asked his parents not to contact authorities about his plans as it would “jeopardize not only the safety of us, but our family as well.” He stated that Muslims had a duty to “migrate” to the Islamic state and invited his parents to join him there.
Khan was charged on Monday with attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and remains in custody pending a hearing on Thursday. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.
“A couple of my friends were like, ‘Watch out for that house.’ I am like, ‘Don’t be like that,’ and low and behold, they were right, I guess,” Bolingbrook neighbor Steve Moore told NBC Chicago.
Khan is among more than a dozen Americans that have been arrested surrounding their plans to join ISIS, although the government believes that “there are approximately 100 American passport holders operating inside of Syria, [and] we don’t know specifically who they are aligning themselves with.”
As previously reported, Colorado teen Shannon Conley,19, was taken into custody at the Denver International Airport this past April as she was set to fly to Germany and then on to an ISIS camp near Turkey, where she would wait to hear from an Islamic man that she sought marry. Conley, who is a certified nurse’s aide, told investigators that she was was going to serve as a nurse at a jihadist camp, and wished to help wage jihad against the United States. She plead guilty in court last month as part of a plea deal.
Michael Todd Wolfe, 23, plead guilty in June after he was nabbed at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where he was seeking to fly to Denmark and then on to Syria to join ISIS. Rahatul Ashikim Khan, also 23 and a student at the University of Texas at Austin, was arrested the same month for conspiring with others to recruit individuals to travel overseas to work with terrorist organizations and wage jihad.
And former North Carolina police officer Donald Morgan appeared in court last month on weapons charges just weeks after he was apprehended by the FBI while returning home from an attempt to join ISIS. He had spent the past eight months in Lebanon as he sought entry into Syria to assist the group.
“Americans and other Westerners with legal travel documents are going to Syria to join the fight and are being trained by jihadists to attack Western targets,” Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told local television station KXAN. “This war is not over and the administration needs to face this crisis head on.”