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Florida man allegedly wanted to join Yemen-based terror organization

By Carol Cratty, CNN Senior Producer
July 18, 2013 -- Updated 2343 GMT (0743 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jacksonville man faces two federal charges
  • Indictment says he tried to provide support to terrorists
  • He allegedly wanted to join branch of al Qaeda

Washington (CNN) -- A 19-year-old Florida man who allegedly wanted to join a terrorist group in Yemen and tried to recruit others was indicted Thursday.

Shelton Thomas Bell faces two charges: conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

According to prosecutors, Bell wanted to join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and engage in fighting.

The indictment, released in Jacksonville, said Bell and an unnamed juvenile flew to Jordan in September 2012 and met an individual they hoped could smooth their way into Yemen and introduce them to terrorists. But the indictment doesn't say whether they ever managed to reach Yemen.

Before heading overseas Bell and others "participated in various forms of physical fitness training and firearms training to prepare for armed conflict in the Middle East," the indictment charges.

Prosecutors said Bell made videos he wanted to take to overseas to use for recruitment purposes. One such video allegedly involved a bizarre July 4, 2012 visit to a Florida cemetery. According to the indictment, Bell and another person "dressed in dark clothing, wore masks and gloves, wrapped their footwear in tape, and caused significant damage to religious statues."

Bell is in the Duval County Jail on unrelated charges, including grand theft and filing a false insurance claim. An attorney representing him could not be immediately identified.

The two federal terrorism charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years each.

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