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Virginia man who feds say wanted to join Islamic State is denied bond

By SCOTT DAUGHERTY | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 11, 2017

NORFOLK — A Williamsburg man who prosecutors say traveled to Jordan intent on joining the Islamic State terror group was ordered Tuesday to be held without bond.

Shivam Patel, 27, was arrested last week on one count of making materially false statements on applications to join the U.S. military.

The detail he omitted: His trip to Jordan, as well as his eventual arrest in that country and deportation to the United States.

“There is no way he could have forgotten that he was in a Jordanian prison,” Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard said, denying a defense request to require Patel to live with his parents and wear a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet.

“Electronic monitoring is no magic wand,” Leonard said, noting that Patel could still leave his parent’s home, steal a car or do something worse.

Defense attorney Timothy Clancy declined to comment on the ruling, as did Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bosse.

In court, however, Clancy argued his client was not a threat and faced a relatively low-level felony that would typically not dictate pretrial confinement. He said his client’s parents, the owners of at least two hotels on the Peninsula, were willing to keep an eye on him and make sure he stayed out of trouble. He also pointed to a federal affidavit in which investigators said Patel may have started in recent months to back away from the Islamic State.

Bosse questioned whether Patel’s recent moderation was for real or for show. He noted that Patel expressed interest late last year in blending into American society and doing something “glorious,” and that “is what he has been doing.”

Bosse said he was worried that if Patel was released, his arrest could serve as a “triggering event” that would lead him to carry out an attack.

“I don’t know what is going on through Mr. Patel’s head,” Bosse said. “But those statements are extraordinarily alarming.”

Federal agents are continuing to investigate Patel to determine whether he offered material support to the Islamic State group, Bosse said. Passport fraud charges are also possible.

Patel was raised Hindu before converting to Islam several years ago, according to Bosse. He said Patel traveled to China in July 2016 to teach English. While there, however, he expressed displeasure to his father about how that country treated Muslims.

His employer arranged for Patel to fly back to Virginia on Aug. 23, but he chose to travel to Jordan, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

He was arrested after a few days, but Bosse declined to say why because of how the information was shared with the United States. He said Patel freely acknowledged upon his return to the U.S. that he was telling taxi drivers and others that he supported the Islamic State.

Patel’s parents spoke with the FBI about their son after learning he was in Jordanian custody. They said he had become “obsessed with Islam,” Bosse and the affidavit said.

With the parents’ permission, investigators searched Patel’s room and computers. They found evidence he had researched how to beat a polygraph, downloaded three copies of an online magazine produced by the Islamic State and performed other research, the affidavit said.

Among his searches, according to Bosse: “How to join ISIS,” an acronym for the group.

On Sept. 2, Patel boarded a flight from Jordan to Chicago, where he spoke with an “undercover employee” about how he wanted to become a martyr, the affidavit said. The FBI interviewed him but let him travel on to Detroit, where he was interested in living because of its large Muslim population, Bosse said.

While there, Patel spoke to a “confidential human source” and expressed a desire to do something “bigger, better and more purposeful,” like dying for Allah.

The affidavit said that at one point, Patel feared making his parents sad, but Bosse said he also indicated he would kill his father if he interfered with his religion.

The charge against Patel, who moved back to Williamsburg in September, stems from statements he made in December while trying to join the Army through the Officer Candidate Selection process. The affidavit said Patel did not disclose his trips to China or Jordan when asked about his foreign travel.

Patel also met with an Air Force recruiter in January and failed to mention the trips.

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©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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