American charged with Islamic State ties contacted Jamaica cleric: U.S. official

Abdullah al-Faisal

(Reuters) – An American woman arrested last month for trying to travel to Syria to join the militant group Islamic State was in touch with an Islamist preacher in Jamaica, a federal law enforcement official said.

The woman, Keonna Thomas from Philadelphia, was charged in early April with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group after she bought a ticket to Europe to travel to Syria.

A court document detailing criminal charges against Thomas, who went by the nickname Young Lioness, said she sent electronic communications to a radical preacher in Jamaica several times earlier this year.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the preacher is Abdullah al-Faisal, a Jamaican convert to Islam who was deported from Britain in 2007 after spending four years in prison there for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

Thomas, 30, asked Faisal about getting assistance from an Islamic State fighter overseas to help her travel. “I don’t want to say much here … as of now I’m still here in the states but will be leaving soon,” she wrote to Faisal, according to the document.

She also wrote to him to say she had de-activated her Twitter account to avoid detection, it said.

Thomas faces up to 15 years in prison in the United States…