Jacksonville, FL - A Jacksonville teen could spend up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted of the multiple terrorism-related charges now facing him.
The indictment against 19-year-old Shelton Bell charges him with “Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists” and “Attempt to Provide Material Support to Terrorists”. When these charges were handed up, Bell was actually already in Duval County Jail awaiting a separate trial.
Training for “jihad”
The indictment claims Bell devised a plan to travel to Yemen to take part in a violent armed conflict he called a “jihad”. Ansar al-Sharia (AAS), an alias for al Qaeda according to the US Attorney’s Office, is based in Yemen, and investigators believe Bell had the intention of joining that group for this violent attack. The US Attorney’s Office says AAS is responsible for multiple attacks in Yemen which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Yemenis and soldiers.
Bell allegedly trained with several others, including a juvenile, for several months in 2012 in preparation for the “jihad”. The training included physical and firearms training, which the indictment says Bell would tape or facilitate taping in order to use for recruiting others.
The training Bell and the recruits took part in was not aimed at the American people, but rather according to the indictment, the attack would be against “just the flag and the Government.”
Part of this continued training, according to investigators, also included viewing lectures and instructions from known al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden.
Attack at home
Bell’s last known address, according to a police report obtained by WOKV, is on Astronaut Ct in Arlington. This is not far from the Chapel Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, where investigators believe Bell participated in a “mission” to further his recruiting efforts.
The indictment says Bell and another person dressed in dark clothing, masks and gloves- even wrapping their footwear in tape- and “caused significant damage” to some of the religious statues at the cemetery.
Bell obtained an expedited passport in late-2012 and purchased airfare from Jacksonville to Tel Aviv for himself and a juvenile. He allegedly defrauded a person out of $4500 to fund this travel by telling that person the money would be used for his computer business.
Bell and his companion left Jacksonville International Airport on September 25, 2012. They stopped through JFK Airport in New York and then Warsaw, Poland before heading to Tel Aviv. They were denied entry to Israel, however, and flew instead to Jordan.
From there, the indictment says Bell obtained a visa to travel to Oman, from where he planned to cross the border in to Yemen, where the AAS was based. While in Yemen, Bell allegedly met with and contacted several individuals while continuing to research Yemen and view lectures.
Already in jail
While the indictment doesn’t give much further detail about what Bell ay have done while in Jordan, his time overseas coincides with a Jacksonville Police search for him.
The police report obtained by WOKV claims Bell took electronic equipment, like computers, from several victims at the Pecan Park flea market under the guise that he would repair them. The items were never returned, however, and when one victim who gave Bell her computer in late July 2012 complained, police learned from flea market management that Bell had packed up his stand and taken everything with him.
Bell was arrested for grand theft on January 29, 2013, about three weeks after he returned from overseas according to JSO.
Court records for Bell show he has pled not guilty to the grand theft charge. He is also charged with organized fraud, knowingly participating in an intentional motor vehicle crash, and false insurance claims. It is not immediately available whether all these alleged crimes are relating to the computer stand, or if the money he obtained from the stand was used to fund his overseas travel.