Shelton Thomas Bell admitted he recruited an unnamed juvenile and the two flew to the Middle East in 2012 with the intention of joining the Ansar al-Sharia group, according to his plea agreement.
The two traveled to Amman, Jordan, in an effort to reach Yemen but were deported by Jordan to the United States.
"If you ask me if was going for jihad in Yemen, I say yes," Bell told federal agents when he returned, according to a statement from prosecutors.
Bell faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. In the plea deal, the federal prosecutors offered to recommend a lighter sentence to the judge because Bell took responsibility for his actions.