New York

22-Year-Old Queens Man Arrested on Terror Charge After Allegedly Trying to Join ISIS in Syria

"He got religious in the last year. Not radical, just religious."

The family of a young Queens man arrested for allegedly trying to join with ISIS in Syria say they're in shock, and they never saw the arrest coming. 

Parveg Ahmed, 22, of Ozone Park, was arrested after flying from New York to Saudi Arabia and then attempting to cross into Syria, law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York. He was stopped before he could travel into Syria.

After Joint Terrorism Task Forces got a search warrant for Ahmed's personal computer in July they found he'd been listening to recordings of radical Islamic terrorists. One of the recordings was from Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican born cleric found guilty in UK of solicitation to commit murder.

A cell phone search warrant turned up messages to people expressing a desire to travel to ISIS controlled areas, and a message indicating he planned to join ISIS in Syria to wage violent jihad. His browser history also turned up research of maps of ISIS controlled locations, officials said. 

Ahmed is charged with attempted material support for terror. 

"As alleged, Ahmed sought to take up arms with violent terrorists who have killed numerous innocent victims, including Americans," said Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde in a statement.

A search of Ahmed's computer indicated he listened to recordings of two notorious clerics, Anwar al-Awlaki and Abdullah el-Faisal. Al-Awlaki was killed in 2011, and el-Faisal was indicted in New York just last week and arrested in Jamaica. 

Ahmed was flown back to New York late Monday, where he was arrested by members of the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force. At a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon, Ahmed was ordered held without bail.

Ahmed's father and brother, who declined to give their names, told NBC 4 New York they were "in shock" and had seen no signs of anything untoward.

"He got religious in the last year. Not radical, just religious," his brother said "He said ISIS was bad just a few months ago."

Ahmed, who is a naturalized United States citizen originally from Bangladesh, went to Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College for a while, his brother said. He said Ahmed was smart and had worked in a warehouse and as a math tutor.

His father said he traveled to Saudi Arabia with Ahmed in June, and then his son left to travel. "We called him and he said he was coming back." 

However, the family received a visit from the FBI in June while Ahmed was in Jordan. A law enforcement source said the 22-year-old was initially taken into custody in Jordan. His father sent him a plane ticket and he was released, however, the FBI arrested him Monday. 

"I don't know what happened," he told NBC 4 New York. 

Neighbors were also shocked at hearing the 22-year-old - who they had seen playing soccer - had been allegedly linked to ISIS. 

"I didn't see anything curious about him or anyone else in this neighborhood," one said.

It wasn't clear if Ahmed had retained an attorney who could comment on the allegations. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors say. 

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