INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- A Brownsburg teenager accused of trying to join ISIS made his first appearance before a federal judge Friday afternoon.
Authorities say Akram Musleh planned on traveling overseas to join the terrorist group. He was arrested in downtown Indianapolis in June as he was trying to board a bus to go to New York to catch a plane Morocco.
Dressed head to toe in a green prison jumpsuit, his hands and legs shackled together, 18-year-old Musleh faced a federal judge. He’s charged with one count of trying to provide support to a known terrorist group.
“All I can tell you is there are some very innocent explanations,” said Musleh’s attorney, Thomas Durkin.
After the hearing, Durkin said he believes the government should be trying help people like Musleh, who Durkin says was influenced by social media, instead of prosecuting them. “We have a client in isolation in kentucky getting no help whatsoever,” said Durkin.
According to court documents, authorities first identified Musleh when he was 15 and even sent FBI agents to meet with him to try and dissuade him from pursuing extremism. Since then, federal authorities say Musleh actively pursued the opportunity to travel overseas to join ISIS. They say that included buying plane tickets and chatting with suspected terrorists online.
During the brief hearing, Musleh was mostly quiet, answering procedural questioning from the judge.
A few times, Musleh made eye contact and mouthed words to members of his family who were present. One female family member spent most of the hearing wiping tears from her eyes.
“Bluntly, I never thought I’d see a terrorism case,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, who is prosecuting the case, “never thought I’d see a terrorist in Indiana.”
If convicted, Musleh faces 20 years behind bars and then supervised release for the rest of his life.