An 18-year-old Chicago-area man accused of planning to join an al Qaida-linked group fighting in Syria has been arrested by the FBI, the agency said on Saturday.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Aurora, Illinois, was taken into custody late on Friday as he prepared to board a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport bound for Turkey, the FBI said in a statement.
It added that Tounisi was a friend of Adel Daoud, an American accused of trying to stage a bombing outside a downtown Chicago bar last year. The agency said Tounisi had not been involved in that plot.
Tounisi appeared before a U.S. magistrate on Saturday on one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He was ordered held until his next court appearance on Tuesday, the FBI said.
A criminal complaint accused Tounisi of making online contact in March with a person he thought was a recruiter for Jabhat al-Nusra, the militant Islamist Syrian group that the U.S. government calls a foreign terrorist organization operating as a wing of al- Qaida in Iraq.
The supposed recruiter was an FBI employee working undercover, the agency said.
Tounisi said in emails to the FBI employee that he planned to get to Syria via Turkey and was willing to die in the Syrian struggle, the complaint said.