A 28-year-old Indian-American, who was raised Hindu before converting to Islam, has been sentenced to five years in jail for passport fraud and making false statements in his application to join the US military.
Shivam Patel, a supporter of the Islamic State terror group, told an FBI undercover employee that he wanted to commit jihad, the US Justice Department said.
The Williamsburg, Virginia man was sentenced y to five years in prison for passport fraud and making false statements in his application to join the US military, it said in a press release.
Patel was also ordered to pay USD 4,000 in fines in connection with two counts of making false statements during his military application process, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
According to court documents and prosecutors, the newspaper said Patel was raised Hindu before converting to Islam several years ago.
According to court documents, Patel, who has a degree in criminal justice from Virginia State University, travelled to China in July 2016 to teach English. While there, he grew displeased with how that country treated Muslims.
His employer arranged for Patel to fly back to Virginia in August, 2016, but, instead, Patel traveled to Jordan, where he was arrested a few days later for unspecified reasons. Court documents said Patel told taxi drivers and others in Jordan that he supported the Islamic State.
Patel told an undercover employee and a confidential source that he wanted to join a “Muslim army” and commit jihad.
He explained he went to Jordan in part to find like-minded Muslims. He said he wanted to do something “bigger, better, and more purposeful.”
After returning to the US, he applied to join the Army and Air Force. When asked about his prior foreign travel as part of his applications, Patel did not disclose his trips to China or Jordan.
After he was asked to show an Army recruiter his passport, which would have revealed his prior travel to the recruiter, he filed an application for a new passport, falsely claiming that he had accidentally thrown his old passport away.
US special agents from the FBI recovered his original passport, which documented his undisclosed travel, when they arrested him in July 2017.
Patel pleaded guilty to the charges on February 8 and the US District Judge Mark S. Davis accepted the plea.
Judge Davis said Patel’s case was more serious than the typical false statement cases filed in federal court. He said Patel’s attempt to join the military was “clearly some reason for concern.”
“It’s all very troubling,” he was quoted as saying by The Virginian-Pilot.
Patel faced a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.