A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, man was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, Justice Department officials said.
Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen who lives with his parents, faces two counts in the criminal complaint unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
“According to the allegations in the complaint, Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz conspired to provide and attempted to provide material support to ISIL by propagating their hateful rhetoric on social media and aiding individuals in their pursuit of traveling overseas to join the designated foreign terrorist organization,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in a Justice Department statement.
In a prior search of Mr. Aziz’s residence on Nov. 27, authorities found a “tactical-style backpack” in his closet, and they identified five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines, a modified kitchen knife, a thumb drive, medication and a balaclava, the statement said.
“The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold accountable any and all those who seek to provide material support to terrorists, and to disrupt potential attacks in the United States before they happen,” Mr. Carlin said.
The arrest was announced by Mr. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith of the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
“The charges in this case focus on Aziz’s efforts to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for the Islamic State,” Mr. Smith said. “These charges are a testament to the perseverance and dedication of those who stand watch over our nation and a clear message that those who support terrorism — will face justice.”
Mr. Aziz used at least 57 different Twitter accounts to advocate violence against the U.S. and to disseminate Islamic State propaganda, according to the complaint.
“It appears that Twitter routinely suspends AZIZ’s [sic] accounts due to the radical nature of his postings, which violate Twitter’s policies,” court records show. “AZIZ then responds by creating backup accounts or opening a new Twitter account with slightly different variations of common user names that he uses. AZIZ frequently uses a variation of ‘Colonel Shami’ as either his username, vanity name, or to refer to himself. AZIZ also commonly re-establishes contact with common associates of his on Twitter.”
The Justice Department said Mr. Aziz is accused of posting a “hyperlink containing the names, addresses and other identifying information of 100 reported members of the U.S. military and calls for violence against them. Additionally, on at least three occasions, Aziz also allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL. In one instance, Aziz allegedly acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIL. According to the allegations in the complaint, Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between these ISIL supporters.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Philadelphia Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) will move with speed to detect and disrupt those who are involved in facilitation or operational planning in support of a terrorist organization. There is no difference between the two, and we will aggressively pursue every threat in order to protect our communities,” Special Agent in Charge Sweeney said.
The Justice Department said trial attorneys Robert Sander and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daryl Bloom of the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.