Madison man faces trial after attempting to join ISIL

Madison resident Joshua Van Haften appeared in U.S. District Court Thursday to face charges that he attempted to join the terrorist organization ISIL in 2014.

Van Haften, 34, travelled to Turkey in Aug. 2014 with the intention of crossing the border into Iraq or Syria, according to the Department of Justice complaint against Van Haften.

The FBI first conducted interviews investigating Van Haften in July 2014. An associate of his informed agents of Van Haften’s previous travels to Egypt, where a dispute with a street vendor landed him in trouble with local police. The American Embassy later returned Van Haften to the U.S. in January 2014 when they learned he is a registered sex offender.

After Van Haften’s flight to Istanbul Aug. 26, FBI Special Agent Eric Roehl tracked him using social media. Facebook activity indicated that Van Haften not only knew individuals associated with various terrorist groups, but that he was attempting to cross over the Turkish border and join them.

“It’s gonna be coming soon. I was about to cross into Syria the day before the Americans … started bombing in Syria from their ships,” Van Haften said in an October 1 Facebook message obtained by the FBI. “I’m not too worried … im kinda jumping headfirst into it. I’m tired of this life man.”

If found guilty, Van Haften could face 15 years in federal prison.

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