Shelton Thomas Bell, Florida Terrorist Suspect, Pleads Not Guilty
Shelton Thomas Bell, a Florida man accused of traveling to the Middle East in order to join a terrorist group and conspiring to aid al-Qaida, pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Jacksonville.
Feds say that Bell, 19, had plans to join the group Ansar Al-Sharia (otherwise known around these parts as al-Qaida), and had taken part in firearm and physical training in Florida to prep him to be part of the terrorist group.
Bell also apparently tried to recruit others in 2012 to travel with him overseas to train and be part of violent jihad, feds say.
Apparently, Bell swindled his old business partner, Michael Papagiannakis, allegedly to pay for his one-way airfare to Jerusalem.
According to Papagiannakis, the two had started a computer repair business, and opened themselves a booth at the flea market.
But not long after, Bell disappeared with thousands of dollars worth of computers, and cash/
Authorities say Papagiannakis gave Bell $4,500 in order to help buy broken computers which they would fix, sell, and split the profit.
But Bell disappeared soon after. When Papagiannakis went to confront Bell at his grandmother's house, he found out that Bell had bought a one-way ticket to Jerusalem.
Police suspect Bell sold the computers he absconded with.
Bell is currently being held at the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville on state charges, including two counts of grand theft, organized fraud and knowingly and intentionally participating in a motor vehicle crash.
The group Bell is accused of trying to join and help has taken responsibility for attacks on forces in Yemin, including a suicide bombing during a parade in May of 2012 that killed more than 100 Yemeni soldiers.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.