Mufid Elfgeeh, an upstate New York pizza shop owner, has pleaded guilty to recruiting militants to fight for ISIS in Syria, as well as attempting to raise money and secure weapons for the terrorist group, MSN is reporting.
Appearing in federal court on Thursday, Elfgeeh, a 31-year-old Yemeni-born naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as part of a plea deal that could put him in prison for up to 22 and a half years. As part of Elfgeeh’s plea deal, other charges — including multiple weapons counts, charges of attempting to kill U.S. military personnel, and charges of assaulting sheriff’s deputies while in custody — were dropped.
— Jamie Germano (@jgermano1) December 17, 2015
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Mufid Elfgeeh was arrested in September 2014 after an extensive FBI investigation. Elfgeeh first caught the FBI’s notice when a Twitter account linked to him contained multiple posts praising jihad and expressing support for ISIS. In one tweet, Elfgeeh called on Muslims to donate a third of their income to ISIS.
“Elfgeeh wanted to be a source of support for violent jihad and serve as a facilitator for violent jihadists who wanted to travel overseas and fight. In Elfgeeh’s own postings and messages on social media and statements… Elfgeeh stated that a person who helps or sponsors a fighter to engage in violent jihad obtains the same religious rewards from Allah (God) as the fighter himself.”
Authorities said Elfgeeh used Twitter, WhatsApp, and 23 different Facebook accounts to try to raise money for ISIS as well as to attempt to recruit fighters. He allegedly recruited three men, two of whom were paid FBI informants, to join ISIS.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 15, 2015
Elfgeeh purchased a laptop computer and a camera for one of the men, as well as gave him money to help him get a birth certificate and a passport. He also wired money to another man in Yemen to help him travel to Syria.
Authorities also said that Elfgeeh purchased handguns and silencers, which he intended to use to kill returning U.S. soldiers. He told one of his associates that he (Elfgeeh) wanted to don a body armor vest and “just go around and start shooting.”
The general public was never in any danger from Elfgeeh’s activities, according to the New York Times.
While in custody, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Elfgeeh allegedly assaulted three U.S. Marshals. Details of that assault have not been made public, and those charges were dropped as part of Elfgeeh’s plea deal.
At the time of Elfgeeh’s arrest, then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued a warning to others who may be thinking about recruiting for ISIS.
“We will remain aggressive in identifying and disrupting those who seek to provide support to [ISIS] and other terrorist groups that are bent on inflicting harm upon Americans. As this case shows, our agents and prosecutors are using all the investigative tools at our disposal to break up these plots before individuals can put their plans into action. We are focused on breaking up these activities on the front end, before supporters of [ISIS] can make good on plans to travel to the region or recruit sympathizers to this cause.”
Elfgeeh remains one of few individuals arrested in the U.S. for attempting to recruit for ISIS, according to U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr.
Mufid Elfgeeh is scheduled to be sentenced March 17.
[Photo by Travis County Sheriffs Office via Getty Images]