A federal complaint unsealed Tuesday in New York charges a Keyes resident with attempting to help the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, also known as ISIL.
Bernard Augustine, 21, of Keyes is accused of attempting to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization. Augustine traveled to Tunisia in 2016 with the ultimate goal of making his way into ISIL held territory in Libya, according to the complaint. However, his quest came to an end when he was apprehended by Tunisian authorities and imprisoned. After serving his sentence he was transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
"Augustine, a U.S. citizen, traveled halfway around the world with the intent of joining ISIS. Today, that journey ends in a US courtroom to face the justice system for his alleged support for a terrorist organization," stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. "The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force remains dedicated to bringing terrorists to justice wherever they are. I would like to thank all of our partner agencies for their continued vigilance."
The complaint states that Augustine had become a vocal supporter of ISIL and individuals supporting the terrorist network prior to his departure from the United States.
In March 2016, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force obtained a search warrant for the defendant's laptop computer. In reviewing the contents of the laptop, agents found evidence that, in the months prior to his departure, Augustine had viewed numerous videos that depicted ISIL leaders and fighters, including fighters engaged in acts of violence.
There was also evidence on the laptop that, during the same period, Augustine watched videos depicting well-known figures who were public supporters of ISIL, or of engaging in violent acts against Westerners, including, among others, Usama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.
Augustine's Internet search history information revealed that, in the months leading up to his departure from the United States, the defendant actively searched for information on ISIL, how to join ISIL, radical jihadist propaganda and firearms.
The investigation revealed that, in the weeks leading up to his travel from the United States, Augustine made numerous postings in online forums expressing support for ISIL and violent jihad.
"As alleged in the complaint, Augustine sought to travel to Libya to join a violent terrorist organization," stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. "This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to arrest and prosecute aspiring terrorists before they are able to threaten the United States and its allies."
If convicted, Augustine faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.