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West Haven man admits to traveling to Middle East to join ISIS

Ahmad Khalil Elshazly was arrested in 2019 before attempting to make his trip to Syria and has been in custody ever since.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A West Haven man pleaded guilty on Wednesday for attempting to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham(ISIS), according to Connecticut's U.S. Attorney.

According to court documents, Ahmad Khalil Elshazly beginning in 2018 wanted to go to Syria and the surrounding area to fight for ISIS. He pleaded his allegiance to them and their leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi online numerous times. 

For example, in October 2019, Elshazly said in a message, “I pledge my allegiance...to the Khilafah (the successor of the leadership) of the Muslims Abu Ibrahim Al Husseini Al Hashami Al Qurashi…” (after Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s death).

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On December 14, 2019, he paid $4,500 to a person believed to be an ISIS facilitator who'd smuggle him out of the U.S. to Turkey. He believed traveling there would make it able for him to connect with ISIS members overseas who'd help him make it to Syria. The next day, Elshazly was arrested after arriving in Stonington where he was expecting to board a boat. 

Elshazly has been in custody since his arrest. The charge of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. A sentencing date is not yet scheduled.

“There is no higher priority than the security of our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery. “My office works closely with our law enforcement partners to prevent and apprehend those who wish to cause violence and other harm, both in the U.S. and abroad, before they are successful. Much of this vitally important work is done behind the scenes and without public recognition. I thank the FBI’s JTTF and all the agencies involved in this investigation.”

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