- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A Phoenix man arrested this week expressed support for the Islamic State group online, researched “lone wolf” attacks and attempted to illegally buy a gun last year, according to court documents.

Authorities said 30-year-old Derrick Thompson, a convicted felon, tried buying a gun on Jan. 26, 2015. He was arrested on Tuesday and faces charges of misconduct involving weapons and assisting and participating in a criminal syndicate. Thompson was charged in state court and has not been assigned a public defender yet.

Court documents show the FBI had been watching Thompson’s online activity for more than two years and that he expressed support several times for the Islamic State group.

Records show he researched the words “midnight mass” in October while also looking for information on which guns are more powerful and “martyrdom versus suicide.”

Police would not reveal other details of the investigation, but authorities are on high alert following the attack at a Berlin Christmas market this week that left 12 people dead and dozens injured. Many Catholics celebrate Christmas at midnight masses.

A probable cause statement filed in state court said it was clear Thompson attempted to buy a weapon “with the intent to use that weapon to promote or further the objectives of a criminal syndicate.”

The FBI’s joint terrorism task force, which includes local and federal authorities, investigated Thompson.

“The investigation is ongoing and there are no indications of any additional threats associated with Thompson at this time. The FBI, along with state, local, and federal partners, remain committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens and communities,” Michael DeLeon, special agent in charge, said in a written statement.

Thompson’s arrest comes a month after an 18-year-old Arizona man was sentenced to eight years in prison for terrorism convictions stemming from a plot to attack a motor vehicle office in metro Phoenix.

Mahin Khan of Tucson pleaded guilty to terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons.

Authorities said Khan, who was arrested in July, wanted to attack the motor vehicle office in Mesa and instructed an undercover FBI employee to start building homemade grenades.

Khan was accused of wanting to inspire an insurgency in the U.S. to carry out attacks and had online exchanges with a person believed to be a member of the Islamic State terror group.

Authorities said Khan had also expressed a desire to attack a Jewish community center in Tucson and that investigators found a document in a search of his home that showed he wanted to attack a military recruiting center and a fitness location.

His defense attorney said Khan has struggled with mental health issues and shown poor impulse control but accepts responsibility for his actions.

Thompson, whose prior record includes a conviction for armed robbery in 2005, was being held in a Phoenix jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.


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