COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina teenager accused of trying to fight for the Islamic State won’t be tried until next year, giving lawyers more time to review classified evidence.
On Monday, a federal judge rescheduled proceedings for Zakaryia Abdin to January, according to documents filed in federal court. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to spend more time preparing, in part because some of the evidence is classified.
Abdin, 18, was arrested at Charleston’s airport in March as he tried to board a plane for Jordan. Authorities said he told an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic State recruiter that he wanted to torture an American, and would attack a U.S. site if he couldn’t get out of the country.
Abdin has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed on a charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. His attorney has declined to comment.
The teen has been monitored for years. At 16, authorities said, he talked about robbing a gun store to get weapons to kill soldiers as revenge for American military action in the Middle East. He was arrested before the robbery, pleaded guilty, and a parole board agreed to his early release after about a year in jail.
Abdin knew that authorities were still watching him — but apparently didn’t realize his “recruiter” was a federal agent.
“We are most likely to contact an undercover agent than a real brother,” Abdin told the undercover agent. “That is why I carry guns in my house, in my car and even I used to secretly take to school. It is very humiliating to be captured.”
According to an FBI statement released after Abdin’s indictment, he told the agent that if he did get to torture an American hostage, he wanted his face shown on video, saying, “I want to be the one to send the message because they know who I am.”
Abdin also sent a video of himself pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State in Arabic and told them he could do whatever was needed, according to the sworn statement. The FBI said he also practiced shooting several different guns during the first three months of 2017.
The FBI said Abdin knew agents would learn of his purchase and travel plans, and so tried to hide his tracks by contacting authorities to tell them he bought guns for hunting and would be traveling to the Middle East on a vacation. He also asked authorities for a meeting, where he told them he no longer held the extreme beliefs that led to his first arrest.