JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- 19-year-old Shelton Thomas Bell is charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
The government said last fall, Bell flew to Israel with a juvenile but was denied entry, then flew on to Jordan. Bell last fall was allegedly making plans to participate in violent armed conflict he called jihad in Yemen.
The indictment said Bell participated in a nighttime mission at the Chapel Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Dressed in dark clothing, he recorded this mission to recruit others to travel to the Middle East and fight.
Cemetery president Jody Brandenburg said this happened about a year ago.
"The damage to our park was limited to statutory that was decorative, not part of family memorials, and we are not aware of any subsequent damage. Like the community of Jacksonville, we are concerned our cemetery was used for this kind of activity."
Bell's activities at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville may well have started an investigation of this matter. Center trustee Secretary Dr. Parvez Ahmed said Bell occasionally visited the center's prayer services a year ago, but was not a member.
Ahmed said Bell stood out because he was tall and dressed differently. There were no red flags until he began to talk to young teens at the center.
"A parent came to us and told us that his son was approached by Shelton and they were talking about things we consider incitement to violence, conducting jihad, weapons, traveling overseas on those kinds of things and obviously we were concerned. We do not condone these kind of discussions inside the Islamic Center, we stand with law enforcement in protecting our country," Ahmed said.
Ahmed said the center's lawyer contacted the FBI about Bell and the FBI visited the center and talked to several people at the center during their investigation.
First Coast News