Defendant Allegedly Received Money from Individuals Overseas to Be Used for “Operational Purposes” in the United States
A federal grand jury returned an indictment late yesterday charging Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of Edgewood, Maryland, with conspiring to provide and with providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization; terrorism financing; and making false statements in connection with a terrorism matter.
The indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Baltimore Division.
“According to the allegations in the indictment, Elshinawy conspired to provide material support to ISIL and received funds in order to carry out an attack,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “When confronted by the FBI, he lied in order to conceal his support for ISIL and the steps he took to provide material support to the deadly foreign terrorist organization. This indictment is the next step in holding Elshinawy accountable. The National Security Division remains committed to protecting the nation from terrorist threats, and we will continue to pursue and disrupt those who seek to provide material support to ISIL.”
“This case demonstrates how terrorists exploit modern technology to inculcate sympathizers and build hidden networks, but federal agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly and using every available lawful tool to disrupt their evil schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenstein.
The four-count indictment alleges that from February 2015 through about Dec. 11, 2015, Elshinawy conspired with others to provide material support and resources, including personnel, services (including means and methods of communication) and financial services, to ISIL. Elshinawy and his co-conspirators utilized various methods of surreptitious and other forms of communication in order to conceal their criminal association, the substance of their communications and their criminal activities from law enforcement.
As part of the conspiracy, Elshinawy and co-conspirator 1, an Egyptian national and childhood friend of Elshinawy, allegedly recruited and sought to recruit others to join ISIL and further its cause of violent jihad. Elshinawy and co-conspirator 1 also provided themselves as personnel to assist ISIL. The indictment alleges that on Feb. 17, 2015, during a discussion with co-conspirator 1 over social media, Elshinawy pledged his allegiance to ISIL, described himself as its soldier, asked co-conspirator 1 to convey his message of loyalty to ISIL leadership and commitment to perpetrating violent jihad. From March 11, 2015, through May 29, 2015, Elshinawy had several discussions over social media with an individual believed to be his brother, during which Elshinawy repeatedly encouraged his brother to join ISIL. During the conversations, Elshinawy also spoke of his support for ISIL and his desire to become a mujahideen and die as a martyr. Over the course of the conspiracy, Elshinawy and co-conspirator 1 discussed obtaining or making an explosive device and possible targets.
To conceal his illegal activities, the indictment alleges that Elshinawy purchased a cell phone, which he registered under a fake name and address, to communicate securely with co-conspirator 1 and other ISIL operatives. Elshinawy also directed his brother to take steps to conceal their communications regarding ISIL. In an effort to conceal his connection to ISIL operatives, Elshinawy removed the name of an ISIL sympathizer from his list of friends on his social media account and blocked co-conspirator 1’s access to that same account.
According to the indictment, Elshinawy received money from overseas through transfers of funds by a company headquartered overseas into his online financial account, wire transfers and other methods to be used to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL. On July 17, 2015, in an effort to conceal and minimize his criminal involvement with ISIL, Elshinawy falsely claimed to FBI agents that he had only received a total of $4,000 from an ISIL operative overseas, and later amended the statement by falsely claiming that he had received no more than $5,200 from the ISIL operative.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to provide and for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization is 15 years in prison; the maximum sentence for collection of terrorism financing is 20 years in prison; and the maximum sentence for making false statements in a terrorism matter is eight years in prison. If convicted, Elshinawy’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. No court appearance has been scheduled. Elshinawy has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 11, 2015, on related charges.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Rosenstein in commending the FBI for its work in the investigation, and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian of the District of Maryland who is prosecuting the case, with assistance provided by Trial Attorneys John Gibbs and Jason Denney of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.