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Michigan man accused of helping Islamic State for six years

The 34-year-old suburbanite has also been charged with being a felon in possession of a destructive device.

DETROIT (CN) — A Michigan man has been federally charged with attempting to provide support for the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria and possessing a destructive device, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. 

In an indictment filed in early October and unsealed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Michigan, Aws Mohammed Naser was charged with providing material support to terrorists and being a felon in possession of a destructive device. 

Few details of Naser’s conduct were revealed in the indictment or a Justice Department press release, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy wrote in the charging document that between December 2011 and October 2017, Naser attempted to provide resources, including himself, to the Islamic State knowing that it was a terrorist organization.

The 34-year-old from the Detroit suburb of Westland also allegedly possessed a destructive device – a broad category that includes several types of firearm as well as explosive devices – in October 2017, despite a prior felony conviction that prohibited him from doing so. 

Details on Naser’s background are also sparse, but Michigan court records show he was convicted in 2014 for an armed robbery committed early in 2013. 

Naser appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti for a brief hearing early Tuesday afternoon and entered a not-guilty plea. He is represented by federal public defender Benton Martin. 

The Justice Department press release noted that if convicted, Naser faces up to 20 years in prison on the terrorism charge and up to 15 years on the destructive-device charge. Prosecutors also noted that the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the case. 

“Today’s indictment serves to remind others what can happen if they attempt to provide assistance to a foreign terrorist organization,” James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, said while announcing the charges. 

The terrorist group is known variously as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, of Iraq and al-Sham, of Iraq and the Levant, or by the English abbreviations IS, ISIS and ISIL and the Arabic abbreviation Daesh. Founded in 1999, the extremist Sunni group allied with al-Qaida during the U.S.’s 2003 invasion of Iraq before splintering to form its own self-proclaimed caliphate centered in portions of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

While a coalition of opponents led by the U.S. has since reduced the group’s hold over territory in that region, its affiliates have seized territory in Nigeria and Mozambique. 

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