CHICAGO—A Chicago man pleaded guilty Monday to planning to travel to Somalia in 2010 to engage in jihadist fighting for a foreign terrorist organization. The defendant, Shaker Masri, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization, knowing that it was engaging in terrorism. The guilty plea resolved charges that have been pending since Masri was arrested as he was preparing to leave the country in August 2010.
Masri, 28, a U.S. citizen who lived in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, remains in federal custody while awaiting sentencing, which U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on October 16, 2012. Masri’s plea agreement calls for an agreed sentence of 118 months (nine years, 10 months). Attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The guilty plea was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was conducted by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of FBI special agents; Chicago Police officers; and representatives from 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the plea agreement, on July 19, 2010, Masri told an associate, ho, unbeknownst to Masri at the time, was a government cooperating source, that he had decided to travel abroad to engage in a jihadist conflict as a combatant. Masri told this individual that he had two choices: either travel to Somalia to aid al Shabaab or to Afghanistan to aid al Qaeda, and Masri indicated that he had decided to travel to Somalia. Masri assured the cooperating source (CS) that he was determined to join a jihadist conflict and only needed funds to facilitate his plan. The CS responded that he had money to fund Masri’s proposed travel, but only if he could join Masri in traveling to Somalia to join al
Shabaab, and Masri agreed.