November 23, 2014
BAY SHORE, N.Y. (AP) - An attorney for a young New York man caught boarding a plane to Yemen to fight with an al-Qaida affiliate tells The Associated Press his client has autism and didn't understand the gravity of what he was doing.
Eighteen-year-old Justin Kaliebe (kah-LEE'-bee) pleaded guilty in February to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The federal court proceeding was secret.
But attorney Anthony La Pinta says his client was diagnosed as a child with autism and is awaiting the results of a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. The teen's condition could be a factor when he's sentenced in September.
Kaliebe converted to Islam about three years ago. He appears to have been swept up in the New York Police Department's ongoing investigation into the activities of Muslims throughout the region.