Here in the US, when we see someone with a long beard, messed-up hair, and clean clothes, we assume they’re just a stoned hipster trying to look non-conformist. The case of 19-year-old Florida Muslim Shelton Thomas Bell should shatter those assumptions. Looking like a cross between a homeless person and a nerd who’s afraid of sunlight, Bell doesn’t exactly look like what’s expected of an Islamic jihadist. However, thanks to copious hours spent on the internet that could have been better spent reading all the counterjihad sites he’s currently being mocked on, Bell converted to Islam. Specifically, radical Islam.
Bell began reading numerous jihadi blogs and interacting with jihadis on forums. His appearance probably didn’t change much after converting to Islam; something tells me he never groomed himself in the first place. Soon, he was spending his time discussing ways to help al Qaeda wage jihad overseas, and bending over to receive Allah’s war, soothing love inside of him. One day, after a conversation with a jihadi contact he had made, Bell decided it was his turn to join the fight.
He prepared to travel overseas to Yemen and join an al Qaeda front group known as Ansar al-Sharia. He began to work out to help himself prepare for the rigorous training camps he would be put through in Yemen (not that he didn’t need to already because he was scrawny.) However, he didn’t make it overseas. Before his departure, he had tried to reach out to other disgruntled Muslim youth in Florida to join him in his jihad. He traveled to Jordan, accompanied by someone under 18 to meet a person he believed to be an Ansar al-Sharia contact. However, they had no luck getting to Yemen from Jordan, so they returned home.
Bell and an unnamed juvenile showed the true tolerance of Islam in Florida – they vandalized non-Muslims’ gravestones that had religious symbolism on them. When authorities caught up with him, they threw him behind bars – apparently he had been involved in fraud and had intentionally caused a car crash in addition to his jihadist activities. Now Bell is sitting in prison, facing up to 15 years for attempting to provide material support to terrorists.