A Florida man was arrested as he tried to fly out of Miami International Airport on his way to join Islamic State militants fighting in Syria, according to a complaint filed in federal court Friday. The FBI charged Gregory Hubbard, 52, of West Palm Beach, and two other men with conspiring and attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS or ISIL.
According to the complaint, the three men met regularly over the past year with an FBI informant as they conducted combat training and praised recent terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino. The men referred to ISIS as the “soccer team,” participating in jihadist attacks as “playing soccer” and an AK-47 assault rifle as “the Bible.” They discussed attacking members of the U.S. military in their neighborhood and even contemplated attacking the White House, according to the complaint.
“The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring justice to those who conspire and attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.
Hubbard was charged along with Darren Jackson, 50, of West Palm Beach and Dayne Christian, 31, of Lake Park. The men each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while Christian faces an additional charge of a felon in possession of a firearm. They are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 5 in West Palm Beach.
According to the complaint, Hubbard first told the FBI informant that he was thinking about joining ISIL on April 11, 2015, and then emailed the informant a 100-page manual that explained the basics of the extremist group. Over the next few months, the two met regularly, discussing recent terrorist attacks and listening to sermons byAnwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and Islamic preacher who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
When talking about the Orlando that left 49 people dead, Christian allegedly told the FBI informant that the Pulse nightclub where it happened “was a soft target” and that “it was an added bonus that they were gay.”
Jackson and Christian soon joined to provide guns, ammunition and training to Hubbard as he prepared to join the terrorist organization. The FBI informant helped Hubbard secure his passport and purchase a round-trip plane ticket to Germany. “I have to go two ways, just for security reasons,” Hubbard said, according to the complaint. The FBI informant also purchased a ticket to accompany Hubbard on his voyage.
From Germany, Hubbard planned on taking a bus to Turkey and then cross the border into Syria to join the fight. But after checking in for their flights in Miami on Thursday, federal agents swooped in, arrested Hubbard and rounded up Jackson and Christian elsewhere.