U.S. officials on Friday arrested a 25-year-old man from suburban New York and charged him in a five-count indictment with attempting to travel to Yemen to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Court papers unsealed on Friday charged the man, Marcos Alonso Zea, with trying, twice, to travel to Yemen to join the group, which the United States regards as one of the most active wings of the militant network.
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The United States also charged Zea with attempting to give money to Al Qaeda affiliates, and destroying his computers when he learned that he was under investigation.
He faces five criminal counts: Conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, two counts of trying to provide support to terrorists or terrorist organizations, and two counts of obstruction.
"Despite being born and raised in the United States, Zea allegedly betrayed his country and attempted to travel to Yemen in order to join a terrorist organization," said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Zea was arrested at his home in Brentwood, New York, located 50 miles east of Manhattan, federal prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors said that in January 2012, Zea attempted to fly from New York to Yemen, but was intercepted by British customs officials while changing planes and returned to the United States. Having been foiled in his attempt to reach Yemen, he then helped an 18-year-old associate, Justin Kaliebe, attempt a similar trip in January 2013.
Kaliebe was arrested while trying to board a flight to Oman and charged with trying to provide support to terrorists, according to court papers.