MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRG)T - A federal judge found a Dayton man guilty Thursday on two terrorism related charges
28-year-old Laith Alebbini was convicted of conspiring to aid ISIS and attempting to then do so.
Federal prosecutors say Alebbini was arrested in April of last year while trying to board a flight from Cincinnati to Syria
“If you take a substantial step toward joining a foreign terrorist organization, you will be caught, You will be prosecuted and you will be convicted," U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said.
Prosecutors said in the months before his arrest, Alebbini watched ISIS propaganda on YouTube, was banned from Facebook for sharing it and alienated his friends and family.
Alebbini was ready to lose everything, including his own life, to support ISIS
"His sister, up until one hour before he was arrested, was engaged in WhatsApp conversations with him, begging him not to do what he did and telling him ISIS is a terrorist organization. Alebbini responded - 'I am a terrorist.',” Glassman said.
Dr. Glen Duerr, an an international studies professor at Cedarville University, said ISIS has a savvy social media presence that targets potential recruits.
“Typically, young men between the ages of 18 and 30 that are diseffected, that haven't really got good job prospects, typically that are single and not married,” Duerr said.
But there are exceptions. In his case, Alebbini had a wife and infant child. Duerr also says the majority of suspects come from a Middle Eastern background but not all of them.’
"I think of Christopher Cornell, a yougn caucasian man from the Cincinatti area who was caught by the FBI. His plan was to blow up various sites in Washington D.C,” Duerr said
Cornell was also recruited through the Internet.
As the War on Terror is waged online, the adage “If you see something, say something” still applies
“We see in a lot of cases there are poststhat are made on twitter or facebook and sometimes it's assumed to be a joke or someone that's judt kind down on his luck or not feeling great but these thing have to be taken seriously,” Duerr said.
“Frankly, the threat of international terrorism is something that is present in Dayton, in the southern district of Ohio and throughout the country,” Glassman said. “We’re trying to stop individuals who are radicalized, who want to go fight for Isis before they have the opportunity to go there.”
Glassman says Alebbini has been open about his support for ISIS since his arrest and hasn’t shown remorse or regret.
Alebbini is now facing up to 40 years in jail and then deportation.
He’s schedule to be sentenced in March.