Aaron Travis Daniels from Ohio was arrested Monday for allegedly trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group, also called ISIS. The U.S. Justice Department said Daniels, who is from Columbus, was also suspected of donating funds to the terrorist organization.
Authorities were investigating Daniels for months and arrested him at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport as he was boarding a plane to Libya “for the purpose of joining” ISIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly said in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus.
The 20-year-old Daniels — also known as Harun Muhammad and Abu Yusuf — admitted to authorities he sent money to ISIS recruiter Abu Issa al-Amriki through an intermediary and was reportedly going to travel from Columbus to Trinidad and Tobago via Houston on a United Airlines flight. From the Caribbean, he would have flown to Libya to join the militant group as a fighter.
“He’s accused of paying money that was intended to go to a foreign terrorist organization — in this case [ISIS],” U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman reportedly said Monday. “And then further, he was accused of attempting to provide himself as a fighter” for the group.
If convicted, Daniels could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was being held without bond Monday but has a bond hearing scheduled for Thursday morning. Authorities said they had no reason to believe Daniels was attempting to recruit more fighters for ISIS.
Daniels isn’t the first American Al-Amriki had recruited. The ISIS leader also recruited 26-year-old Emanuel L. Lutchman who carried out the machete attack at a restaurant in Rochester, New York, last New Year’s Eve. Al-Amriki is believed to have died in a U.S.-led drone strike in Syria in April.