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US man pleads guilty to terrorism charges

March 19, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) — A 20-year-old U.S. man has pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges after authorities say he conspired to aid al-Qaida and traveled to the Middle East to join terrorist groups.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville, Florida, reports that Shelton Thomas Bell pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Authorities say Bell planned to join Ansar Al-Sharia, which is an alias for al-Qaida. The group has taken responsibility for attacks on Yemeni forces, including a suicide bombing during a parade in May 2012. That attack killed more than 100 Yemeni soldiers.

Investigators say Bell participated in physical, firearms and other training in Florida to prepare for armed conflict.

In September 2012, Bell and a juvenile went to Amman, Jordan, and made contact with someone who investigators said could help them travel to Yemen to participate in violent jihad, according to the indictment. The indictment does not say whether Bell ever entered Yemen.

Bell and the juvenile were eventually deported from Jordan to the United States in November 2012, authorities said.

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