HOUSTON (CN) - A federal magistrate judge denied bond Wednesday to a Texan accused of offering his services as an English teacher to the Islamic State and working for the terrorist group in Syria, rejecting his parents’ request to let him live at their home until his trial.
Warren Christopher Clark, 34, is charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group from 2011 to October 2015. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday. His trial is set for March 18, 2019 in federal court in Galveston.
Slim, bald and bearded in a baggy orange jumpsuit that he wore over a gray long-sleeve shirt, Clark walked on crutches to the defense table Wednesday, stepping on his sandaled right foot, his left foot bare save a gray sock that dangled loosely from his toes.
Clark seemed oddly at ease during the two-and-a-half hour hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray at the Houston federal courthouse.
He draped his left leg over the arm of his chair and rested his head on his hand as Scott Sosa, a police officer for the city of Sugar Land, and member of an FBI joint terrorism task force, read statements prosecutors said Clark had made in emails and social media communications about his affinity for the Islamic State group.
Sosa said that Clark, a practicing Muslim since high school, caught the attention of FBI agents in 2011 because he was hosting a YouTube channel called Jihadi Fan Club on which he was openly supporting the IS group.
“He was advocating killing of enemy combatants and that jihadis would take over the world. . . . He stated that there’s paradise for killing enemies of Islam, in particular U.S. soldiers,” Sosa said in a flat tone.
Sosa said the FBI interviewed Clark, who obtained a political science degree from the University of Houston in 2007, before he left the country to teach English in Saudi Arabia from 2012 to 2014. “He said ‘No’ when questioned if he had made statements against the U.S. and supporting violence,” Sosa said.
Sosa frowned and peered over his glasses as he read from a classified FBI report about Clark, responding to questions from federal prosecutors.
According to Sosa, Clark’s father Warren Anthony Clark forwarded the State Department an email from Clark in August 2015 in which Clark stated he had crossed the border from Turkey into Syria and was with the Islamic State group, who had forced him to undergo a month of military and religious training.
“He said he was in a war zone. He said, ‘I do not plan on fighting or going to war,’” Sosa said.
Sosa read statements he said Clark had written in emails in summer 2015: “Beheading people is Islamic,” “Love live the Islamic State. They are the only ones doing jihad,” and “It is not haram to kill in front of kids.”
Prosecutor Mark McIntyre said, “What does haram mean in Arabic to the best of your ability?”
“Forbidden,” Sosa said.
Sosa testified that Clark had also communicated on social media in 2015 with a 17-year-old who was eager to enlist with the Islamic State group.
“Clark asked the teenager, ‘Are you going to the caliphate to live or fight?’” Sosa said. The Islamic State group calls its territory a caliphate.
“Martyrdom,” Sosa said the teenager replied.
“Clark said, ‘God willing you will live in Islamic State soon,” Sosa said.
“So he’s God willing for a 17-year-old to martyr himself?” McIntyre said.
Sosa said Clark offered to pick the teen up in Turkey and take him to territory controlled by the Islamic State group in Syria.
Clark reportedly lived with the IS group in Mosul, Iraq after sending a resume and a cover letter, stating “I am looking to get a position teaching English to students in the Islamic State.”