He styled himself a “lion of war,” the feds say.
But a suburban teenager who allegedly wanted to join ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq didn’t make it any farther than O’Hare International Airport onSaturdayafternoon.
Now, 19-year-oldMohammed Hamzah Khan faces a potential of life behind bars if he’s convicted of trying to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Wearing an orange prison-issue jumpsuit that served as a stark visual reminder of the shocking ISIS beheading videos that have dominated international news in recent weeks, the goateed Bolingbrook resident was ordered held without bail during a brief appearance in courtMondaymorning.
Prosecutors say he was nabbedbythe FBI’s Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forcewhile trying to get onto an Austrian Airlines flight to Istanbul, via Vienna — and that he left a trail of evidence of his desire to join the barbaric terror group.
“Western societies are getting more immoral day by day,” he allegedly wrote in a three-page note to his parents.“I do not want my children to be exposed to filth like this.”
The note, in which Khan allegedly stated his desire to travel to Syria or Iraq and join ISIS, was part of a stash of damning evidence gathered during a raid of his family’s home on a quiet street in thesouthwest suburb, court documents state.
While Khan was still at O’Hare, agents found a map with a hand-drawn arrow pointing from the U.S. to Turkey and then on to Syria and Iraq, the documents state. A drawing of the ISIS logo with the words “Come to jihad,” alsowasfound, it’s alleged.
And in hisnote for his parents, Khan allegedly wrote,“I extend an invitation, to my family, to join me in the Islamic State.”
‘We are the lions of war,” it continued. “My nation, the dawn has emerged.”
The note indicated that Khan wasdisgruntled that his taxes werebeing “used to kill his Muslim brothers and sisters,” the feds say.
Anditallegedly also urged Khan’sparents: “PLEASE MAKE SURE NOT TO TELL THE AUTHORITIES.”
Both parents sat mute in court and left without comment. Khan’s mother, wearing a traditional niqab that covered most of her face, was in tears.
It remains unclear whether Khan’s parents saw the note before the federal raidSaturday, or what led to Khan’s arrest.
Neighbors of the Khans said there was nothing unusual about the family, who seemed to be active within the Bolingbrook Muslim community.
Steve Moore said he has lived next door to the Khans for over two years.
“I work on their cars, I’ve plowed their snow for them,” Moore said. Mohammed Khan “would come over and ask to borrow the lug wrench. He was very soft-spoken. I never would have expected this.”
Khan is neither the first American accused of trying to join ISIS, northe first suburban Chicago teen to be arrested at O’Hare and accused of attempting to travel to fight in Syria.FBI Director James Comey said last week that he was aware of about a dozen U.S. citizens who were fighting for the group overseas.
AndAbdella Ahmed Tounisi, 18, of Aurora, was arrested in April 2013 at the airport and accused of attempting to join up in Syria withal-Qaida group Jabhat al-Nusrah.
In a third pending terror trial, Tounisi’s pal, Adel Daoud, 20, of Hillside, is accused of plotting to blow up a pair of downtown Chicago bars in September 2012.
Prosecutors last week asked the judge handling Daoud’s case to allow an undercover agent to testify against Daoud in disguise in a closed courtroom.
It’s not clear whether undercover agents played any role in Kahn’s capture.
But the criminal complaint against him suggests he’s fighting an uphill battle if he intends to try to clear his name.
Following his arrest, the complaint states, Khan waived his Miranda rights, admitted he knew he would be in trouble and “advised that he expected to be involved in some type of public service, a police force, humanitarian work, or a combat role.”