A Dayton man faces up to 40 years in prison for attempting to join ISIS.
A federal judge found Laith Alebbini, 28, guilty of one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to do so.
According to Ben Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, this was the first terrorism trial in the Southern District.
“We’ve got a number of cases in Cincinnati and Columbus,” Glassman said. “We’ve resolved all of them ultimately by guilty plea. So this is the first case that we’ve actually tried.”
Alebbini, a Jordanian citizen, was arrested in April 2017 at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
According to a criminal complaint, Alebbini purchased tickets for a flight to Jordan but planned to make his way to Syria to join ISIS.
“His sister, up until one hour before he was arrested, was engaged in WhatsApp communication with him, begging him not to do what he did,” Glassman said. “Alebbini responded, ‘I am a terrorist.'”
Investigators had been keeping an eye on him and intercepting and recording conversations, Glassman said, including those with a confidential source. Many of the conversations took place in Arabic, according to officials.
According to records from the U.S. Attorney’s office, in one conversation, Alebbini said, “I will not enter the United States of America except, God willing, as a conqueror.”
In another, he said, “I would rather spend ten years in prison than to stay one year in America in this system.”
According to officials, Alebbini had been in the U.S. since 2011 and had been a legal permanent resident since 2014. He arrived in Dayton in March 2017, Glassman said.
After serving his sentence, Alebbini faces deportation, Glassman added.
“If you take a substantial step towards joining a foreign terrorist organization, you will be caught, you will be prosecuted and you will be convicted,” he said.
Alebbini’s sentencing is set for March 8, 2019, Glassman said.