North Texas 18-Year-Old Charged With Supporting Terrorist Group (fox4news.com)
Article published on fox4news.com on Feb 08 2019 04:20PM CST
ARLINGTON, Texas – A North Texas 18-year-old faces federal charges after authorities say he conspired to support terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Michael Kyle Sewell, of Arlington, has been charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to LeT, a Pakistani-based terrorist organization.
This charge comes following an investigation by the FBI and several North Texas law enforcement agencies.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, the federal complaint shows Sewell recruited someone to join LeT after the two met online.
Sewell gave the recruit contact information for someone who could help him travel overseas. The person Sewell put the recruit in contact with turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
The complaint details how Sewell expressed interest in traveling within 3-5 years to Pakistan to fight for the terrorist group. But he brought in a third party, the co-conspirator, who took steps to travel to Pakistan right away.
“I think there is a fear that is associated with people that may engage in this behavior,” said James Whalen, a defense attorney who has handled similar cases involving individuals who end up on the federal government’s terrorist radar.
Whalen admits the cases can be tough to defend. He says one area of concern is that Sewell is 18.
“Is this something he believes in or is he just a kid trying to fit in? Sound tough or be tough. Is this really where his heart was?” Whalen said. “I think his age does factor in. Something you should look at is whether or not what was his true motivation in doing this.”
The document further mentioned that “Sewell stated that it was Allah’s will to turn him into a killing machine.”
Sewell reportedly coached the recruit on what to say, and vouched for him to the undercover FBI agent, even going as far to say he would kill the recruit if he turned out to be a spy.
“We stay on constant alert for radicals plotting attacks targeting citizens of the United States, here or abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said in a release. “Countering terrorist threats is our highest priority, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring justice to those who attempt to provide material support to foreign terror organizations.”
It’s not clear if Sewell is currently in custody.
Arlington ISD has so only confirmed he was once a student in the district.
Article originally published on fox4news.com on Feb 08 2019 04:20PM CST