An Illinois teenager accused of trying to support ISIS pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, had invited his family to join him in his plans to travel to join ISIS in the Mideast, authorities said. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is using warfare and terror in an attempt to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria.
The teenager’s mother, Zarine Khan, condemned ISIS and accused it of using social media propaganda to brainwash Muslim youths.
“We condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms. We condemn the brutal tactics of ISIS and groups like them. And we condemn the brainwashing and the recruiting of children through the use of social media and Internet,” the mother told reporters while reading tearfully from a statement.
“We have a message for ISIS, Mr. Baghdadi and his fellow social media recruiters: Leave our children alone!” Zarine Khan said.
She was referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
Her son is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He wrote that he was leaving the United States and on the way to join ISIS, according to a criminal complaint. Authorities said they found a three-page letter in the bedroom he shared with a sibling in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in which he invited his family to join him. But he warned them not to tell anyone about his travel plans, the complaint said.
“First and foremost, please make sure not to to tell the authorities,” he wrote, according to the complaint. “For if this were to happen it will jeopardize not only the safety of us but our family as well.”
A round trip ticket was purchased for Khan from Chicago to Istanbul, authorities said.
Authorities arrested him at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in October.
Investigators’ search at Khan’s Bolingbrook home, where he lives with his parents, turned up documents allegedly written by Khan that stated his intentions.
In the letter, Khan wrote that there is an obligation to “migrate” to ISIS-controlled territory.