Amanda Pampuro

DENVER (CN) — A Colorado man pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he had planned to join the Islamic State group.

Authorities arrested Davin Daniel Meyer on July 14 at Denver International Airport where he was booked on a plane traveling to Turkey. The 18-year-old resident of Castle Rock faces a single charge of attempting to support a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Prosecutors say Meyer unknowingly communicated with an FBI informant between November 2022 and July 2023. Meyer allegedly met with another FBI mole three times to discuss traveling to Iraq to join the designated terrorist group.

The complaint claims Meyer became radicalized through watching extremist videos online. When he was 17 years old, an acquaintance reported Meyer to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office for making "violent threats to act upon his radical Islamic beliefs.”

"The individual reported to law enforcement that Meyer had told the individual that he wanted to travel to Syria and become a martyr, or if he did not make it to Syria, he wanted to kill people in the United States, including police and military members," the complaint states.

By then, prosecutors say, Meyer was praying six times a day and watching radical sermons online and on his phone while he took walks.

Meyer has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, according to the complaint, which also notes that Meyer refused to take medication prescribed by his psychiatrist because he believed doing so would be in violation of his Islamic faith. Meyer is further described as having dropped out of high school and that he had a math-learning disability.

In preparation for his trip to the Middle East, Meyer filed for a passport, bought supplies and booked a ticket to Turkey.

“If I give up something for the sake of Allah then he will replace it with something better," Meyer allegedly told the informant when asked if he was willing to give up his easy American lifestyle.

“As for the physical element, much difficulty will be involved,” Meyer allegedly told the informant. “I can be injured or killed at any moment on the battlefield and environmental conditions can be very tough depending on the season and where I am. But if I am to carry through with it all sincerely then it will all pay off.”

The complaint details Meyer's concern that he would stand out in Iraq as a Westerner. He asked the informant if he should buy an Alfajr watch with built-in alarms for prayer or pack a tooth-cleaning twig called a miswak instead of a toothbrush.

Prosecutors say Meyer sought to fund his trip by getting a job that would accommodate prayer times, allow him to avoid interacting with women and didn't play background music. Meyer also relied on an allowance from his mother who offered to rent him an apartment and cover three months of his expenses.

On July 14, according to the complaint, Meyer arrived at the airport, prayed, passed through security, arrived at the gate, presented his ticket, and then was arrested on the bridge just before getting on the plane.

The government filed to seize Meyer's iPhone, desktop computer and $600.

If convicted Meyer faces up to 20 years in prison. He was represented in court by David Kaplan of the Denver firm Stimson LaBranche Hubbard. Kaplan declined to comment on the case.

U.S. Attorney Melissa Hindman is leading the prosecution.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak oversaw the hearing held at the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse in Denver. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn, appointed by former President George W. Bush, will oversee the jury trial.

Since the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr, called on Muslims to emigrate and join the organization on July 4, 2014, an estimated 25,000 have journeyed to Iraq and Syria including 4,5000 Westerners and 250 Americans.