United States v. Alebbini, No. 19-3647 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
FBI agents arrested Alebbini, a Jordanian national who immigrated to the U.S. in 2009 and became a permanent resident in 2014, at the Cincinnati Airport, suspecting that he was attempting to travel to Turkey and then Syria to join ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Alebbini had previously shouted a threat while being escorted away from the Turkish Embassy and, during the ensuing investigation, told FBI agents that Facebook deactivated his account because he had posted pro-ISIS videos, that he agreed with ISIS’s overall goals but not necessarily with their means, that he attempted to join the U.S. Military to fight Syrian forces, and that he was not a terrorist, but that he “would be the perfect recruit for ISIS.” An informant had recorded conversations in which he expressed pro-ISIS views. His relatives believed he was planning to travel to join ISIS.
Alebbini was convicted of attempting and conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS, 18 U.S.C. 2339B(a)(1). The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for both of his convictions. A rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. The court noted evidence contradicting Alebbini’s assertion that he had disavowed his plan.