The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has filed a criminal complaint against a Maryland man who has been accused of receiving over $9,000 from the ISIS to finance a terrorist attack in the United States. According to CNN, in a complaint filed against the man on Monday, the man who has been identified as 30-year-old Mohamed Elshinawy, was arrested by FBI officials on Friday. Elshinawy was charged with “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, obstruction of an investigation and making false statements,” the report added.
The criminal complaint alleges that Mohamed Elshinawy received around $8,700 from ISIS for “nefarious purposes” from people that he believed had connections with the Islamic State. Most of the money was sent via PayPal and Western Union money transfers, a Washington Post report adds.
Following Elshinawy’s arrest, Assistant Attorney General Carlin released a statement.
“According to the allegations in the complaint, Mohamed Elshinawy received money he believed was provided by ISIS in order to conduct an attack on U.S. soil,”
FBI officials have been tracking the activities of Elshinawy since earlier this year. In June, they received information about him receiving $1,000 from an individual in Egypt. Elshinawy was detained and questioned in what has been termed a “non custodial interview” back in July. Back then, Elshinawy claimed the money was sent to him by his mother who lives in Egypt. However, after they showed him records of payments from Western Union, he admitted that the money was received from one of his childhood friends in Egypt who connected him to an “unidentified ISIS operative.”
Upon further questioning, Elshinawy admitted to have received well over $4,000, which allegedly would have been used to finance a terrorist attack in the U.S. He did say that he never intended to carry out an attack himself. A few days later, Elshinawy admitted to have received another $1,200.
“Elshinawy sought to portray himself as someone who was simply trying to scam some money from ISIL members,” the complaint said.
Some of the money he received from ISIS was spent to get himself a new laptop. He also bought several pay-as-you-go phones and used the money for personal expenses. Elshinawy, however, did not spend the money to buy weapons.
Ever since he was under the FBI scanner, officials were tracing his online activities and found that Elshinawy had pledged allegiance to ISIS on February 17. He reportedly told a childhood friend, he was “a soldier of the state but was temporarily away,” according to the complaint. In a message sent to his brother, who lives in the Middle East, Elshinawy confessed that he had pledged allegiance to the ISIS and that he had received money from them. He also added that he would receive more money from them.
Following questioning by the FBI in July, Elshinawy made several attempts to hide his past communications with alleged ISIS operatives from Egypt, the complaint alleges.
If convicted, of all the charges filed against him, Mohamed Elshinawy could face up to 31 years in prison. The primary charge that he faces is attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization for which he faces a 15 year prison sentence, if convicted. He also faces two other terrorism related charges, which could result in an 8 year sentence for each charge.
“This case demonstrates how terrorists exploit modern technology to inculcate sympathizers and build hidden networks,” U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in a statement following Elshinawy’s arrest.
The news of Elshinawy’s arrest comes just a few days after the San Bernardino shootout carried out by ISIS supporters, Syed Rizwan Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik.
[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]