NEW YORK – Shivam Patel, 28, an Indian American, pleaded guilty on Thursday, February 8, to two counts of making false statements to the FBI. He will now face up to 15 years in prison when sentenced June 4, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
In September of 2016, while conversing with an FBI informant, Patel expressed admiration for a U.S. Army officer who had shot and killed 13 soldiers on Fort Hood, Texas, according to court documents.
He then tried to join the U.S. Army and Air Force later that year and in the application process, he lied to military recruiters about a recent trip he had taken to Jordan in a failed attempt to make contact with the Islamic State and join a “real Muslim Army,” court documents further stated.
According to court documents, Patel was raised a Hindu. But after taking a trip to China in July 2016 to teach English, Patel converted to Islam as he was displeased with how China was treating Muslims.
His employer then arranged for Patel to fly back to Virginia on August 23, 2016. But instead Patel took a detour and decided to travel to Jordan in hopes of joining the Islamic State.
Even when FBI official searched through Patel’s computer last year, they found that he had researched how to join the Islamic State before he left for China, according to court documents.
According to court documents, Patel was captured while in Jordan and Jordanian officials had him deported on September 2, 2016, from where he flew to Chicago and then Detroit, the next day, where he met an FBI source and started talking about the Islamic State.
He explained to the FBI source that he had gone to Jordan in part to find like-minded Muslims because he wanted to do something “bigger, better, and more purposeful” such as dying in the cause of Allah, but was afraid of disappointing his parents, which he eventually did.
Patel also discussed his desire to see a holy war between Muslims and non-Muslims; he sang an Islamic State fight song as well and recalled making a replica of the Islamic State flag which he wanted to replace his neighbor’s American flag with, according to court documents.
According to court documents, Patel returned to his hometown, Williamsburg, Virginia on September 6, 2016 and moved into a motel that his parents owned.
He started applying for jobs with the military, as well as police and fire departments and correctional facilities and probation offices, while he still stayed in touch with the FBI source he had met.
According to court documents, he then texted the source Sept. 23, 2016, to express support for Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 soldiers in 2009 while serving at Fort Hood. He, however ended up misidentifying Hasan as Nidal Hussein, who happened to die as a martyr, when in fact he is alive and on military death row, along with claiming that the shooting happened at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
Court documents also say that in late 2016, Patel began stating that he did not actually support the Islamic State and that he simply expressed his support for a terrorist organization, which is not against the law, but failing to disclose his trips to Jordan when trying to join the Army and Air Force in December 2016 and January 2017 was a crime.
Court documents say that Patel even lied about his travel history, saying that his only time out of the country in the past seven years was a family trip to India in 2011 and 2012.
Patel was also warned before signing the Army application, that providing false information could result in criminal charges and when an army recruiter asked to see Patel’s passport to confirm his travel claims during his interview, Patel agreed to bring it at first and told the State Department two days later that he had accidentally thrown it away in October and needed a new one, according to court documents.
However, investigators did find Patel’s passport “near” the motel room where he was living, after his arrest in July 2017.