Mufid Elfgeeh, a New York pizza shop owner, has admitted to using his business resources as a front for ISIS recruitment. The Associated Press reports that the shocking confession came on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Rochester-native was arrested in 2014, in what an ABC News reporter called quite possibly the first confirmed case of ISIS actively recruiting in America. In order to avoid a 30-year prison term, Mufid and his attorney arranged for a plea agreement. He would instead serve a maximum sentence of 270 months or 22.5 years.
Although some sources claim a date has not been set, the AP stated that Elfgeeh did receive a sentencing date for March 17 of next year.
For the 1st time an American citizen pleads guilty to supporting ISIS. Mufid Elfgeeh said guilty @ 11:22AM in Roc. pic.twitter.com/Qa2ftvGM8B
— Berkeley Brean (@whec_bbrean) December 17, 2015
So how exactly does one go from selling pizza to selling fake passports for aspiring terrorists? To understand Mufid and his motivations, the New York Daily News suggest we pay closer attention to his family tree.
“Elfgeeh’s uncle, Abad Elfgeeh, was arrested in Brooklyn in 2003 after being accused of having links to Osama Bin Laden and funneling millions of dollars to a terrorist network in his native Yemen.”
The Daily News says that Abad Elfgeeh, who previously ran an ice cream shop, is currently serving a 15-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania and should be scheduled for release within the next few years.
— M. Jennings (@RealFriscoKid) December 18, 2015
Mufid, who multiple sources report is a naturalized citizen that was born in Yemen, drew attention to himself and his ISIS support thanks in large part to his social media posts and activity. The pizza shop owner used sites that included Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp to “spread messages about ISIS and other terrorist groups.”
According to the plea deal, in 2013 Mufid Elfgeeh worked to be “a source of support for violent jihad and serve as a facilitator for violent jihadists who wanted to travel overseas and fight.” Some of his messages certainly suggest this to be the case.
“Al Qaeda said it loud and clear: we are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the Earth and the people.”
The Daily News also quoted Elfgeeh as saying, “[ISIS] will one day rule the world with the will of Allah.”
Words are one thing, but Mufid Elfgeeh took his anti-American, pro-terrorist stance to the next level by working to actively recruit ISIS sympathizers to fight for the terrorist organization, according to his plea agreement. Authorities state he also requested donations for his cause. Authorities state that he spent $600 to help a Yemeni man get a passport so that he could join and fight for ISIS/the Islamic State in Syria.
According to court documents, one of the men promised to “secure a 9 mm handgun and silencer for Elfgeeh to kill American troops and Shiite Muslims living in the area in exchange for $600.” Mufid agreed to meet the informant in a Wal-Mart parking lot to exchange money for the weapons. In May 2014, Elfgeeh was arrested when he turned up to meet the fake ISIS recruit.
The Associated Press reports that as part of the plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the reputed ISIS recruiter will not be charged with “attempting to kill military members and weapons counts,” or assaulting three sheriff’s deputies while in custody.
— Rochester D and C (@DandC) December 17, 2015
U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. confirmed to the press that Mufid Elfgeeh was one of the first Islamic State recruiters arrested while actively recruiting in the United States. However, he was believed to have been foiled thanks to concerned citizens reaching out to law enforcement and working with authorities to bring him to justice.
Said Hochul, “The public should continue to report to law enforcement any suspicious individuals or activities and thereby hasten the demise of these killers.”
[Photo by Travis County Sheriffs Office via Getty Images]