CENTRAL ISLIP - A Brentwood High School alumnus is in custody after pleading not guilty to charges he tried to join al-Qaida.

Federal authorities say Marcos Alonso Zea, 25, also known as "Ali Zea," attempted to travel to Yemen to join the international terrorist organization.

Zea was arrested Friday morning.

Prosecutors say his plan was foiled back in 2012 when, on his way to the Middle East, he was stopped by British customs agents and returned to the United States. They add that once Zea knew he was being investigated, he tried to cover his tracks by destroying a hard drive that contained extremist material.

The suspect's parents say their son is being targeted because he recently took an Arabic language class and visited a mosque.

In addition, Zea worked with alleged co-conspirator Justin Kaliebe, who admitted he was an aspiring terrorist. Kaliebe is awaiting sentencing.

Zea has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, attempting to support terrorists and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and obstruction of justice.