A Fremont man has been charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists after federal officials stopped him from boarding a Turkey-bound flight at San Francisco International Airport this past June. The 22-year-old, Adam Shafi, planned to travel to Syria and join forces with known terrorist group al-Nusra Front, alleges a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday.
When first stopped at the airport on June 30, Shafi explained his travel plans as emanating from a desire to live somewhere more socially and religiously conservative.
“[Shafi] was discouraged with the politics and direction of the United States," reads an affidavit also unsealed yesterday, "citing the recent Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, and wanted to be in a country of people of similar mindset and religion as himself.”
He was arrested at his East Bay home several days later on July 3, reports KQED News, following on information gathered from informants and digital surveillance that led officials to believe he was attempting to join the terrorist group.
The Chronicle highlights that, in a wiretapped phone conversation a few weeks before his arrest, Shafi spoke of his desire to fight.
“I just hope Allah doesn’t take my soul until I have at least, like, a couple gallons of blood that I’ve spilled for him,” he allegedly told a friend.
Apparently Shafi had been on the government's radar for some time, as San Francisco FBI officials interviewed him in September of 2014 after he disappeared for a few days during a family trip to Cairo. According to the unsealed affidavit, at the time he told federal officials that he had traveled to Istanbul to "see the condition of refugees from Syrian firsthand and to provide assistance to them."
His lawyer, Joshua Dratel, on Thursday denied the charges against Shafi.
“There is no evidence that he was planning to do anything but fly to Istanbul, which is where he had been the year before for two days where he attempted to help the refugees and returned home,” the Chronicle reports Dratel as saying. "There is no statement by him that he was intending to go to Syria or join any designated terrorist group."
If convicted, Shafi could face 20 years in prison.