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American held without bail after tweets in support of Islamic State

Published time: August 11, 2014 16:19
Customers wait in line at the Terminal at JFK airport in New York (Reuters)

Customers wait in line at the Terminal at JFK airport in New York (Reuters)

An American accused of conspiring to aid the militant group Islamic State was ordered by a New York judge to be held without bail after he was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month, according to the New York Daily News.

Donald Ray Morgan was arrested by FBI agents on August 2 at Kennedy Airport when he returned to the United States following an eight-month stay in Lebanon where his wife lives, the Daily News reported.

Morgan was allegedly attempting to broker deals for military-style weapons and ammunition in his home state of North Carolina. He was indicted for possessing a firearm as a felon since he has a previous conviction in North Carolina for firing a gun.

Yet officials also cited concern over his aggressive rants on Twitter under the name “Abu Omar Al Amreeki” during his time in the Middle East.

At a bail hearing last week, assistant Brooklyn US Attorney Nadia Moore painted Morgan as too dangerous to return to North Carolina.

“It’s possible that he traffics in guns to people in this organization (Islamic State),” Moore said in Brooklyn Federal Court before Magistrate Ramon Reyes. Islamic State is also known as ISIS, or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Morgan - who referred to himself as a mujahideen, or jihadist fighter - allegedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on Twitter. His sentiments on the social media site signaled that he may have been preparing to fight with Islamic militants in Syria, Iraq, or possibly in the US, law enforcement officials worried.

There was no evidence of Morgan’s membership with Islamic State nor that he offered material support to the militant group, federal defender Peter Kirchheimer said.

Yet Judge Reyes said the tweets “clearly implied to me that he is trying to go to Syria or Iraq as the next step and trying to be actively engaged.”

Islamic State is an Al-Qaeda splinter group that has rampaged through Iraq in recent months, capturing large swaths of the western and northern parts of the nation. The group was known to have fought against Bashar Assad's government in Syria before seeking gains across the border in Iraq.

The Iraqi government has been next to powerless against the extremist group's advances. In recent days, the United States has authorized and conducted airdrops of humanitarian supplies to minorities in Kurdistan fleeing the violence as well as airstrikes against Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.

The Islamic State wants to create a medieval-style caliphate across Iraq and Syria stretching to the Mediterranean. It recently tried to extend its bloody campaign to Lebanon, but was beaten back by the Lebanese army.

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