SAN DIEGO (AP) — The brother of a San Diego man believed to be the first American citizen killed while fighting alongside the Islamic State in Syria has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism-related charges.
Marchello Dsaun McCain, 35, was sentenced Friday in federal court in San Diego for illegal possession of a cache of firearms and body armor and making false statements to federal agents about international terrorism.
McCain is the brother of 33-year-old Douglas McCain who was killed in 2014.
The United States also unsealed a two-count indictment charging Canadian national and former San Diego resident Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi with conspiring with Douglas McCain and others in the United States and Canada to provide support to terrorists in Syria carrying out kidnappings and killings.
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Marchello McCain pleaded guilty in 2016 to making false statements during several interviews with federal agents from 2014 to 2015, including denying knowing that his brother planned to fight for the terrorist group. He told the FBI that he thought his brother was going to Turkey to play music and teach English.
In his plea agreement, McCain acknowledged that he allowed his brother to use a debit/credit card belonging to McCain’s wife to buy airline tickets to Turkey and put money to cover the purchase into his wife’s account.
“ISIS has brought the war on terror closer to home by directing and inspiring attacks in the U.S. and other countries, thereby putting American lives in danger,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in a statement. “By lying to federal agents, Marchello McCain delayed, frustrated and thwarted an investigation into a group that supplied U.S. and Canadian fighters to ISIS.”
McCain’s brother left the United States in March 2014 and five months later was reported killed fighting against the Free Syrian Army.
Marchello McCain, who was convicted of shooting at two people in Minnesota in 2005, also pleaded guilty in 2016 to six counts of being a felon in possession of guns, ammunition and body armor.
In that plea agreement, Marchello McCain acknowledged that about three weeks before his brother departed, the two went to a San Diego gun range and shot weapons that included a semi-automatic-style rifle and a shotgun, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said McCain not only helped his brother to get to Syria, he agreed to travel there and join him in violent jihadist activities. He regularly communicated with his brother and other individuals regarding the financial and logistical needs of foreign fighters in Syria, and wired $800 to an Islamic State operative in Turkey to support his brother and others.
On Sept. 15, 2017, pursuant to an extradition request by the United States, Canadian authorities arrested Abdullahi.
Abdullahi is currently detained in Canadian custody without bail, pending an extradition hearing. He also faces charges in Canada for a Jan. 9, 2014 armed robbery of an Edmonton jewelry store, which prosecutors said Abdullahi carried out to finance the travel of Douglas McCain and others to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.
Besides Douglas McCain, four others left the U.S. and traveled to Syria as part of the conspiracy. All were killed in fighting there, according to prosecutors.