According to the complaint, in early 2008, Shehadeh, at the time a resident of Staten Island, New York, devised a plan to travel to Pakistan in order to join the Taliban or a similar fighting group. In furtherance of his plan, on June 13, 2008, Shehadeh flew on a one-way airline ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, to Islamabad, Pakistan. Upon landing in Pakistan, Shehadeh was denied entry into the country by Pakistani officials, and he returned to the United States. He was questioned by FBI agents and NYPD detectives on multiple occasions about the purpose of his trip to Pakistan, and he told them that he had traveled to Pakistan in order to visit an Islamic university and to attend a friend’s wedding. The complaint alleges that Shehadeh subsequently admitted to FBI agents in Hawaii that the true purpose of his trip to Pakistan was to join a fighting group such as the Taliban. The complaint also alleges that Shehadeh attempted to recruit another individual to join him for this purpose immediately after the two discussed a sermon by the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
According to the complaint, several weeks after Shehadeh was denied entry to Pakistan, he attempted to enlist in the United States Army at the Times Square recruiting station in New York City. Shehadeh’s application was denied when it was discovered that he had concealed his prior trip to Pakistan. Although Shehadeh claimed that he attempted to enlist for career opportunities and benefits, the complaint alleges that his true motive was to deploy to Iraq, where he intended to desert and fight against the United States military alongside Iraqi insurgent forces.
In addition, the complaint alleges that Shehadeh created and administered multiple websites dedicated to spreading violent jihadist ideology. The content of these websites included, among other things, speeches from known al Qaeda leaders such as Abu Yahya al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri.