Basit Javed Sheikh

Basit Javed Sheikh is a U.S. legal permanent resident who was arrested in November 2013 while trying to board a plane to Lebanon with the intention of joining al-Nusra Front in Syria.U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of North Carolina, “Individual Charged with Attempt to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” FBI, November 12, 2013, https://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2013/individual-charged-with-attempt-to-provide-material-support-to-a-foreign-terrorist-organization. According to the FBI, Sheikh spent five months in 2013 posting messages and videos on Facebook in support of jihadist forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s civil war.Associated Press, “Basit Javed Sheikh, North Carolina Man, Attempted To Join Al-Qaida: Feds,” Huffington Post, November 12, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/basit-javed-sheikh-north-carolina-al-qaida_n_4259493.html.

In August 2013, Sheikh began communicating online with an undercover FBI agent.Associated Press, “Basit Javed Sheikh, North Carolina Man, Attempted To Join Al-Qaida: Feds,” Huffington Post, November 12, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/basit-javed-sheikh-north-carolina-al-qaida_n_4259493.html. Sheikh reportedly met the undercover agent through a Facebook page created by the FBI to find Americans seeking to join militant groups.Anne Blythe, “Judge orders involuntary commitment of Cary man awaiting trial on terror-related charges,” News & Observer, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10214600.html. Sheikh reportedly told the undercover agent he wanted to help al-Nusra Front with “logistics, media, fight too, God willing.”Anne Blythe, “Judge orders involuntary commitment of Cary man awaiting trial on terror-related charges,” News & Observer, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10214600.html. Sheikh allegedly also told the agent that he was ready to be a martyr.U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of North Carolina, “Individual Charged with Attempt to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” FBI, November 12, 2013, https://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2013/individual-charged-with-attempt-to-provide-material-support-to-a-foreign-terrorist-organization.

A court-ordered psychiatric evaluation diagnosed Sheikh as schizophrenic.Anne Blythe, “Judge orders involuntary commitment of Cary man awaiting trial on terror-related charges,” News & Observer, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10214600.html. His mother argued that he suffers from anxiety and depression, and Sheikh spent most of his time before his arrest at the computer. In early January 2015, a federal judge ordered Sheikh to be committed for 120 days of psychiatric treatment after Sheikh argued in court that the United States should pay “100 camels worth of monetary compensation” for war deaths in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Sheikh reportedly interrupted the judge repeatedly, saying, “I have a right to travel the world. I was leaving this country. What’s your moral rationale for holding me?” He also said he wanted to help “his brothers” in the Middle East.Anne Blythe, “Judge orders involuntary commitment of Cary man awaiting trial on terror-related charges,” News & Observer, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10214600.html.

In June 2015, the same judge ordered Sheikh to receive involuntary medication. Sheikh believed he was in a “fake jail,” the staff was “radiating” him, and the tap water had been altered to make him sick. He also believed people were following him. According to the court report, Sheikh argued, “I am going home and your government is going to apologize to me.” He also said the U.S. government is illegally detaining him because it is “racist against Muslims.”Anne Blythe, “Judge orders involuntary commitment of Cary man awaiting trial on terror-related charges,” News & Observer, January 7, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10214600.html.

In October 2015, a federal judge ordered Sheikh to be forcibly injected with anti-psychotic medication in order to be fit to stand trial.Emery P. Dalesio, “Judge orders mentally ill man medicated in terrorism case,” Associated Press, October 14, 2015, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/052c9d99e06840b1a04ad0ff2edf35be/judge-orders-mentally-ill-man-medicated-terrorism-case. Sheikh faced up to 15 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, as well as a $250,000 fine if convicted.U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of North Carolina, “Individual Charged with Attempt to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” FBI, November 12, 2013, https://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2013/individual-charged-with-attempt-to-provide-material-support-to-a-foreign-terrorist-organization.

On August 22, 2018, Sheikh pleaded guilty in federal court to “attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”“North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Providing Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of North Carolina, August 22, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/pr/north-carolina-man-pleads-guilty-providing-material-support-foreign-terrorist. On November 29, 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison, with credit for the five years he already spent in jail. His sentence includes a lifetime of post-release supervision with mandatory mental health treatment.“Cary man gets prison time for plan to aid terrorists in Syrian civil war,” WRAL Raleigh, November 29, 2018, https://www.wral.com/cary-man-gets-prison-time-for-plan-to-aid-terrorists-in-syrian-civil-war/18028158/. Sheikh was released from prison on November 15, 2019.“Basit Javed Sheikh,” Find an Inmate – Federal Bureau of Prisons, accessed January 13, 2021, https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/.

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