A 20-year-old New Jersey man is facing federal terrorism charges for threatening to blow up Trump Tower and the Israeli Consulate, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jonathan Xie of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is charged with two counts of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, two counts of making false statements to law enforcement and one count of transmitting a threat, according to the Justice Department.
If convicted, Mr. Xie could spend decades in prison.
Mr. Xie was arrested Wednesday afternoon and is expected to make his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate judge in Newark, New Jersey.
Prosecutors say the FBI surveilled Mr. Xie outside of Trump Tower last month. He later posted, “I want to bomb Trump Tower” on Instagram and even posted a “yes/no” poll asking if he should bomb the New York skyscraper accompanied by an emoji of a bomb.
“I went to NYC today and passed by Trump Tower and then I started thinking about bombing it and I was imaging the explosion would kill Trump and I started laughing hysterically,” Mr. Xie posted, according to court documents.
In a separate post, Mr. Xie said he wanted to bomb the Israel embassy as well.
Prosecutors said Mr. Xie had not planned a specific attack, but the FBI had been monitoring him since January. He first came on the FBI’s radar screen when he posted his support for Hamas online and talked about murdering supporters of Israel.
“The actions that he took and planned to take made that threat both clear and present, and we commend our law enforcement partners for working closely with us to stop him before he could carry out his plans to commit violence on American soil,” U. S. Attorney Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey, said in a statement.
Court filings say last year, Mr. Xie sent $100 to someone in Gaza whom he believed to part of Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.
Mr. Xie also tried to join the U.S. Army, so he “can learn how to kill, according to court documents.
In April, Mr. Xie talked to an undercover FBI agent online and tried to walk the informant through the process of donating to Hamas, prosecutors said. Mr. Xie used the same site to send Hamas $20 in bitcoin.