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Chicago man charged with attempting to aid al Qaeda

Federal authorities arrested [FBI release] a Chicago man Tuesday night on suspicion that he planned to travel to Somalia and train with terrorist groups there in order to become a suicide bomber. Acording to a complaint [text, PDF] filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website], Shaker Masri, an American citizen born in Alabama and raised abroad, was only hours from boarding a flight when he was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force [official website] agents. In the last month, according to an FBI informant, Masri began to lay out a specific plan to travel to Afghanistan and Somalia [CFR backgrounders] to join jihadist fighters with al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and its Somali affiliate al Shabaab [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Masri was charged with two counts of attempting to provide material aid to a terrorist organization. He could receive up to 15 years in prison for each charge if found guilty, and is being held without bail.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges [JURIST report] last month in another case of domestic terrorism, against five members of al Qaeda allegedly involved in a plot to detonate a bomb in the New York City subway. Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado man at the center of that plot, pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to the conspiracy in February. In June, Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad [BBC profile] pleaded guilty [JURIST report; indictment, PDF] to 10 counts of terrorism and weapons charges for attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square. In May, lawmakers introduced a bill [JURIST report] that, if passed, would strip US citizenship rights from those suspected of engaging in terrorism. In March, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) [official websites] proposed a law [JURIST report] that would require terror suspects, including US citizens, to be stripped of their Miranda rights and to face military interrogation and trial. The proposed legislation has been controversial [JURIST op-ed], with critics claiming its impact "would be a fundamental miscarriage of justice."

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