Friday, July 19, 2013

Florida Muslim Faces Charges for Aiding Terrorists


Florida Teen Faces Charges for Aiding Terrorists



Source: Associated Press

Created: July 18, 2013

Shelton Thomas Bell is accused of traveling to the Middle East to train with



JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida teen accused of traveling to the Middle

East to train with terrorists is facing federal charges.


The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa announced Thursday that a grand jury has

indicted Shelton Thomas Bell, 19, of Jacksonville, on charges of conspiring

and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faces up to 15

years in prison for each of the two charges.


According to the indictment, Bell had planned to travel to the Arabian

Peninsula and join Ansar Al-Sharia, which is an alias for al-Qaida there.

The group has taken responsibility for multiple attacks on Yemeni forces,

including a suicide bombing during a parade in May 2012, which killed more

than 100 Yemeni soldiers. The group has also claimed credit for a series of

armed assaults in March 2012, killing more than 100 people, including Yemeni



Investigators reported that Bell and others between May and September 2012

engaged in physical, firearm and other training to prepare for armed

conflict in the Middle East. Bell is also accused of soliciting others,

including young people, to travel overseas with him to train.


According to court records, Bell made video and audio recordings intended to

be distributed to others once he arrived in the Middle East. The purpose was

to solicit and recruit others there to participate in violent jihad, federal

authorities said.


The federal indictment says that Bell and an unidentified person performed

"a night-time mission" and vandalized religious statues at a Jacksonville

cemetery. The court records also describe how Bell participated in firearms

training for an upcoming fight, recorded terrorist recruiting videos and

bought a pair of black, tactical gloves for use in combat.


In September 2012, Bell and a juvenile went to Amman, Jordan, and made

contact with someone who investigators claimed could help them travel to

Yemen to participate in violent jihad.


Bell was being held Thursday at the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville on

several state charges, including two counts of grand theft, organized fraud

and knowingly and intentionally participating in a motor vehicle crash.

According to jail records, Bell was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff's

Office on Jan. 29.


Ann Finnell, Bell's attorney on the state charges, said she knew that her

client "was being looked at" by federal authorities.


"I don't have any information about what is alleged in this indictment," she



Finnell said Bell grew up in Jacksonville and his parents live in the North

Florida city.


According to an arrest report released Thursday by the Jacksonville

Sheriff's Office, Bell was a computer repair vendor at a Jacksonville flea

market. A woman said she dropped her computer off to be fixed and she told

authorities that bell had "been giving her the run around" and she couldn't

reach him.


A Jacksonville Sheriff's deputy wrote that Bell "cleaned out his booth" at

the flea market and bought a one-way ticket to Israel.


The federal indictment states that Israel wouldn't allow Bell and an unnamed

juvenile to enter the country - but Bell went on to travel to Turkey and

Jordan and also attempted to travel to Yemen "to find a location where they

could participate in violent jihad."


Jacksonville deputies wrote in their report on the grand theft case that

Bell stayed in the Middle East for two months at the end of 2012, then

returned around New Year's. The police got involved because Bell had not yet

returned the victim's property.


It's unclear whether Bell has retained an attorney on the federal charges.

Finnell said it's likely that a federal public defender will be appointed to





Judith Ausuebel in New York, Tamara Lush in Tampa and David Fischer in Miami

contributed to this report.



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