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Islamic Center helps police in local terrorist investigation

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Updated: 7/19/2013 7:00 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One parent's concern over Shelton Thomas Bell's conversations with their son led the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida to alert police.

Bell, 19, is facing federal charges for conspiring and attempting to provide material to terrorists.

The secretary to the board of trustees at the Islamic Center, Parvez Ahmed, says all members of their community are taught to speak up if they notice something strange.

It's a policy that ended up helping authorities in their investigation of Bell.

"A parent had come to us and told us that he felt his son was being incited to violence by Shelton. They were talking about guns and violence and traveling overseas joining jihad," said Parvez Ahmed, Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.

Ahmed never spoke to Bell but says the teen stood out at worship services.

"He had strange head dresses and turbans. It just kind of looked awkward because I do not see anybody in the Islamic Center wear turbans," said Ahmed.

The management at Pecan Park Flea Market also paints a similar picture of Bell. One woman, who did not want to be identified, tells Action News Bell leased two spaces for a computer repair business.

According to the manager, Bell was strange, always wore military boots, and kept to himself.

On occasions, she says she was forced to lock him out of the spaces for not paying.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police report, Bell was arrested in January of this year on charges of grand theft.

Investigators say Bell would fool people into paying him to repair their computers and never returned their equipment.

In the report, police say Bell "cleared out his booth with all of the victims' property". He then purchased a one way ticket from Jacksonville to Israel. Authorities believe he spent about two months overseas trying to cross into Yemen to meet with Ansar al-Sharia, a known terrorist organization.

Ahmed says it's incidents like this that are a reminder to parents to stay vigilant.

"We are concerned about any kind of radicalization of our youth. We have always advised our parents to keep close conversations with their children to find out who they're associating with and what they're talking about," said Ahmed.

According to the indictment, Bell traveled overseas with a juvenile. The U.S. Attorney's office won't confirm if more arrests are pending in this case.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

hasse k - 7/20/2013 12:47 PM
0 Votes
Vigilant citizens are doing more than NSA and they don't violate our liberty

Truthbetold - 7/20/2013 11:22 AM
1 Vote
They just rolled on this guy so they can look good. He wasn't one of their own, so he was expendable. Have they EVER rolled on one of their own? NO!

nativejax - 7/20/2013 8:41 AM
0 Votes
Ignoramus, if they were ALL terrorist, Ahmed would have not alerted the police. Lets see, Bell is American, wanting to join a well know terrorist group that has killed many people, and Ahmed is an Islamic who just wants to have a place to pray freely in America..????? No brainer, I would want Ahmed in my neighborhood anyday.

TOMMY - 7/20/2013 5:55 AM
0 Votes
This place is nothing but trouble, look at their culture, send them home and stop aiding terrorist. Let them go home and kill each other, but not at our expense!
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