American linked to Somalian terror group appears in court

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Washington, July 23 (ANI): A Virginia man, who has been charged with providing material support to terrorists abroad, appeared in court on Thursday, and requested that an attorney be appointed for him.

Zachary Chesser, 20, is accused of trying to join Al-Shabaab, a Somali-based Islamist militant group suspected in the recent bombing attacks in Uganda that left 73 dead and dozens more injured as they watched the World Cup final.

Chesser, who just two years ago was a high school football player and crew member in Fairfax, Virginia, is now one of 34 Americans accused of and charged with having ties to international terrorists in the past 18 months.

ABC News quoted sources as saying this trend represents an unprecedented spike in homegrown terror.

What they consider to be most alarming is the fact that many of those charged were radicalized on the Internet, with thousands of Americans reportedly frequenting terror websites that espouse mass murder.

A recently disclosed FBI Directorate of Intelligence document from July 2009 estimated that there were as many as 15,000 websites and web forums that were supportive of terrorist activities.

Officials say the number of websites is constantly changing since many of the sites and forums are not maintained, with current estimates indicating as many as 10,000 active sites. (ANI)

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