Madison man is charged with trying to travel to either Iraq or Syria to join ISIL

MADISON, Wis. - A Madison man is charged with trying to travel to either Iraq or Syria to join ISIL.

Joshua Van Haften, 34, was charged in federal court with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. He appeared in court Thursday and has been ordered held without bond.

A federal complaint says that Van Haften traveled to Istanbul on Aug. 6 with the intent of crossing Turkey's border and joining the terrorist group. He was arrested at O'Hare Airport in Chicago Wednesday evening after landing on a flight from Turkey.

U.S. Attorney John Vaudreil called Van Haften a flight risk. Van Haften's lawyer, Joseph Bugni, said he looks forward to "having all the facts brought to light."

A complaint states that a former associate of Van Haften told authorities Van Haften previously traveled to Egypt and came to the attention of police there when a woman complained about him taking pictures of a military facility.

The associate said Egyptian police notified the US Embassy about Van Haften. He was returned to the US when his status as a sex offender was discovered. The associate said Van Haften said he wanted to travel to Syria and Libya to join Jabhat Al-Musrah.

A Homeland Security agent determined Van Haften was in Egypt from October 2012 to January 2014.

A woman also reported to authorities an incident involving her 11-year-old son talking to an unidentified man on Aug. 24 near the Capitol in Madison. She said the man talked to her son about World War III, Syria and leaving the US to go to Syria.

The complaint states that the woman and her son correctly identified a photo of Van Haften as the man the son talked to.

Van Haften also told a roommate in September 2014 that he didn't like living in the US and wanted to go overseas, according to a complaint. The roommate said Van Haften made comments referring to jihad.

The complaint states that Van Haften also told another person that if everything works out, he will not return to the US.

Investigators said they reviewed Van Haften's public Facebook profile and messages to friends and found comments and likes supportive of ISIL objectives.

“Van Haften traveled overseas for the alleged purpose of joining and attempting to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. “Stemming the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria and holding accountable those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations remains a top priority for the National Security Division."

If convicted, Van Haften faces up to 15 years in prison.