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North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty To Supporting Terrorist Group

A mentally ill Pakistani man who had been living in Cary, North Carolina, pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to provide support and resources to al-Qaida.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert Higdon said in a statement that Basit Javed Sheikh had been arrested and initially charged in November 2013. He was 34 at the time.

The Justice Department said Sheikh used social media to “propagate the violent ideology of Islamic Extremism” and express support for Jahbat al-Nusrah, who the government has identified as an alias of the terror group al-Qaida in Iraq.

Court documents showed that in mid-2013, Sheikh reached out to two undercover FBI agents online, one of which he believed to be working with Jahbat al-Nusrah. He told the agent that he was “serious” about jihad, and wanted to travel to Syria and help the extremist Islamic cause.

The Justice Department authorities arrested Sheikh on November 2, 2013, when he attempted to board a one-way flight to Lebanon from the Raleigh-Durham Airport.

In 2017, a federal judge declared Sheikh fit for trial after 10 months of being forcibly injected with drugs.

Sheikh’s guilty plea means that he could face automatic removal from the United States because he is not a natural born citizen. The maximum sentence he faces is 15 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Sheikh’s sentence will be determined after consideration of the plea agreement, the Justice Department said. With the plea bargain, Sheikh could be released from prison in two years or less, reports the Associated Press. His father, according to AP's report, says Sheikh would return to his family's home in suburban Cary after release.