CHICAGO (AP) – A former California college student has pleaded guilty to charges of aiding a terrorist organization after earlier arguing he was entitled to immunity because he hooked up with the kind of Syrian rebels the U.S. has backed.

Twenty-five-year-old Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab admitted in a plea agreement Wednesday to flying from Chicago to Turkey in 2013, then traveling to Syria. The agreement says he joined Ansar Al-Islam, a precursor to the Islamic State group.

The agreement calls for a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

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Al-Jayab told the judge he wanted to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime, but acknowledged the group he was joining engaged in terrorist actions.

Al-Jayab told federal agents that between November of 2013 and January of 2014 he went to Turkey to visit his grandmother. Prosecutors in the indictment said his statements were false, because they had evidence he went to Turkey to seek passage to Syria to train with a terrorist group.

He returned to the U.S. in 2014 and settled in Sacramento, California, where he enrolled at a community college.


Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.