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Homegrown Islamist attempted to join al-Qaeda in Syria

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A federal judge in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday ordered a homegrown Islamist, who actively sought to join an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, to stand trial beginning in July 2014, according to counterterrorism expert and former police commander Jacob Gellman.

But federal prosecutors objected to the date claiming they required additional time in order to comply with rules of discovery that call for them to provide the suspect's defense team with intelligence documents, Gellman told the Examiner.

The suspect, Basit Sheikh, a/k/a Abdul Basit, was arrested and charged with providing material support to a terrorist group for his attempt to join Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, a jihadist group declared a terrorist organization by both the State and Treasury Departments.

The 29-year-old was arrested in November 2013 at an airport in North Carolina on his way to Syria to fight in civil war, which has killed upwards of a hundred-thousand soldiers, rebels and civilians, according to law enforcement officials.

Prosecutors are mandated to find and give defense lawyers any information that might help prove a defendant is innocent and the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies needed time to look through data they might have while protecting spying sources and methods.

FBI investigators claim they possess evidence collected by confidential informants and "intelligence assets" who had communicated on the Internet with Sheikh. During the online communications Sheikh allegedly said he wished to join the Nusra Front in Syria.

Last week, the same federal judge, Terrence Boyle ruled against a defense petition to free Sheikh on bail citing the suspect as being a flight risk and a danger to the community. In November, during a hearing Sheikh's mother testified that he required treatment for depression and acute anxiety, lacked a job and spent all of his time on the Internet.

Four years ago in Raleigh, eight radical Muslims were arrested on charges they were behind a homegrown terror plot to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., as well as perceived overseas enemies of Islam.

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