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Nat'l Guardsman tried to join IS fighters in Libya, FBI says

"Anyone who threatens to harm our citizens ... will face the full force of justice." - U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon

By
Danielle Haynes and Doug G. Ware

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CHICAGO, March 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army National Guard soldier and his cousin were arrested in Illinois Wednesday for allegedly attempting to support the Islamic State, the Department of Justice said.

Chicago FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, a U.S. citizen, as Chicago Midway International Airport as he attempted to travel to Cairo to join IS -- also identified by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

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His cousin, 29-year-old Jonas Edmonds, was arrested at his home in Aurora, Ill.

According to Justice officials, the two men allegedly conspired for Hasan to use his military training to fight with IS, while Jonas executed an attack on a U.S. military facility in northern Illinois where Hasan had been training.

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Jonas Edmonds, officials said, has a criminal background that made it difficult for him to travel and follow his cousin's suit. So instead, they say, he settled for the attack on the military base.

"According to the charges filed today, the defendants allegedly conspired to provide material support to ISIL and planned to travel overseas to support the terrorist organization," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin. "In addition, they plotted to attack members of our military within the United States. Disturbingly, one of the defendants currently wears the same uniform of those they allegedly planned to attack."

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Hasan Edmonds is believed to be the first U.S. citizen to try and join Islamic State radicals outside of Syria, as he allegedly hoped to join an offshoot in Libya. Justice department officials said his plan was to travel to Egypt and then cross over into neighboring Libya.

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The FBI agent also said Edmonds planned to take an American military manual with him and use it to help train militant fighters.

The FBI began to look at Hasan late last year when he began communicating with a man who claimed to have Islamic State contacts. That man turned out to be an undercover FBI operative, the Times reported. After buying a plane ticket to Egypt, Edmonds allegedly told the operative, "I just want to answer the call."

"I'm not opposed to training [a prospective fighter], my only request is I be allowed to fight and earn my stripes in the field before being given such an honor," Edmonds supposedly told the agent. "I'd rather struggle and strive hard in the cause of Allah rather than sit back and live a 'comfortable' life."

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Both men were charged with one count each of conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, they each face a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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"Anyone who threatens to harm our citizens and allies, whether abroad or here at home, will face the full force of justice," U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon said.

According to a criminal complaint, Hasan told the undercover agent that his only goal was to aid the Islamic State or be martyred in the process.

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"I joined the United States Army National Guard about 3 years ago. I still have currently 3 years left that I have no intention whatsoever of fulfilling," he allegedly wrote.

In the multiple online communications, the agent said Hasan expressed confidence that their plans could be carried out without being detected by authorities.

"Here they hide and some even pretend to be friends," Hasan supposedly told the operative in January.

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