Abdul R. Abukhdair, 26, had been under investigation since 2011, when he was deported from Egypt on suspicion of involvement with a terrorist group.
Abukhdair and his friend Randy Wilson were en route to Africa to join a terrorist group when they were arrested Dec. 11, 2012, according to the federal investigation. Wilson was arrested at the Atlanta airport.
On Aug. 6, both pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. On Friday, a federal judge in the Southern District of Alabama sentenced each man to 15 years in prison.
Abukhdair is a U.S. citizen and native of Syracuse, N.Y. According to an FBI affidavit used to obtain a search warrant in Augusta, Abukhdair went to Egypt to study Arabic. After he was deported, he ended up in Mobile, Ala., where he became friends with Wilson.
Wilson was a friend and former roommate of Omar Hammami, a native of Alabama who was reportedly fighting alongside al-Shabab terrorists in Somalia. Hammami was put on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in November 2012.
According to the FBI affidavit, Wilson and Abukhdair conspired on how to travel to an African country to join in violent jihads and obtained tickets to Casablanca, Morocco. The FBI believes they could have traveled to Mauritania from there.
Abukhdair was to travel by bus from Mobile to Montreal, where he was to fly out, according to the affidavit.