February 27, 2018 / 11:11 PM / 4 months ago

California man arrested for trying to join Islamic State

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A California man has been charged with trying to travel to Libya to join Islamic State, New York federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

In a criminal complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court, prosecutors said that Bernard Augustine, 21, travelled to Tunisia in February 2016 and from there attempted to reach Islamic State-controlled territory in Libya.

Augustine, of Keyes, California, has been charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

A lawyer for Augustine could not immediately be identified.

Prosecutors said that Augustine was arrested and imprisoned in Tunisia before Tunisian authorities turned him over to the United States.

In March 2016, U.S. authorities searched Augustine’s laptop and found that he had viewed Islamic State videos in the months leading up to his trip and made online postings supporting the group.

Authorities also interviewed a person who lived with Augustine, who told them Augustine was constantly on the internet and that he had no legitimate reason to travel to Tunisia, according to the complaint.

As of January, 157 people had been charged in the United States in connection with Islamic State, according to the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. The militant group has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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