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
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
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
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.
(F)AIR USE NOTICE: All original content and/or articles and graphics in this
message are copyrighted, unless specifically noted otherwise. All rights to
these copyrighted items are reserved. Articles and graphics have been placed
within for educational and discussion purposes only, in compliance with
"Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.
The principle of "Fair Use" was established as law by Section 107 of The
Copyright Act of 1976. "Fair Use" legally eliminates the need to obtain
permission or pay royalties for the use of previously copyrighted materials
if the purposes of display include "criticism, comment, news reporting,
teaching, scholarship, and research." Section 107 establishes four criteria
for determining whether the use of a work in any particular case qualifies
as a "fair use". A work used does not necessarily have to satisfy all four
criteria to qualify as an instance of "fair use". Rather, "fair use" is
determined by the overall extent to which the cited work does or does not
substantially satisfy the criteria in their totality. If you wish to use
copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For more information go to:
THIS DOCUMENT MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND DISSEMINATION IS
PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.