Feds indict 19-year-old Jacksonville man accused of aiding terrorists
A 19-year-old Jacksonville man was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, WJXT-TV reports.
According to the indictment, Shelton Bell devised a plan to travel to the Arabian Peninsula and join Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS), an alias for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and participate in violent armed conflict, which he termed "jihad."
AAS has taken responsibility for multiple attacks on Yemeni forces, including a suicide bombing during a parade in May 2012, that killed more than 100 Yemeni soldiers and a series of armed assaults in March 2012, killing more than 100 people, including Yemeni soldiers.
The indictment alleges that between May 2012 and September, Bell and others engaged in physical, firearms, and other training in preparation for armed conflict in the Middle East, which Bell described as "the actions of jihad." Bell allegedly solicited other individuals, including juveniles, to travel overseas with him in furtherance of this conspiracy.
Bell made video and audio recordings intended to be distributed to others once he arrived in the Middle East, for the purpose of soliciting and recruiting others there to participate in violent jihad, according to the indictment.
In September, Bell and a juvenile traveled to Amman, Jordan and made contact with an individual who could facilitate their travel to Yemen to participate in violent jihad.
If convicted, Bell faces up to 15 years in federal prison on each of the two charges. Bell is currently detained in the Duval County jail on unrelated charges.