Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney David J. Freed for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division announced today that Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 21, a U.S. citizen and resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 160 months of imprisonment and 12 of years of supervised release by Chief United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner for conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure. Chief Judge Conner also ordered Aziz to pay $6,635.79 in restitution to the service members he threatened.
According to court documents, from July 2014 to December 2015, Aziz engaged in a concerted and prolonged effort to support the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIL” or “ISIS”), by knowingly conspiring to provide material support, including personnel and services, to ISIS. Aziz was steadfast and outspoken in his support for ISIS. Aziz pledged his allegiance to the leader of ISIS and used at least 72 different Twitter accounts to advocate violence against the United States and its citizens, to disseminate ISIS propaganda, and to espouse pro-ISIS views.
On at least three occasions, Aziz used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL. In one instance, Aziz acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIS. Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between the person in Turkey and the ISIS member.
Aziz also used one of his Twitter accounts to threaten approximately 100 U.S. service members. He disseminated a “kill list” that contained the names, addresses, photographs and military branches of the service members. A well-known ISIS member compiled the list, which commanded ISIS supporters to “kill the [service members] in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their street thinking that they are safe.”
A court-authorized search of a tactical/military style backpack located in Aziz’s closet identified five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines, a modified straight edge knife, a thumb drive, medication, flashlights, a toothbrush, sunflower seeds, a lighter, nail clippers, fingerless gloves, a pocket watch and a black balaclava, which is a type of mask frequently worn by ISIS fighters and supporters.
On December 22, 2015, Aziz was charged in an indictment with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. A superseding indictment was returned on May 18, 2016, which added solicitation to commit a crime of violence and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure. On January 30, 2017, Aziz pled guilty to conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure.
“Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz conspired to provide material support to ISIS by aiding individuals in their pursuit of traveling overseas to join the designated foreign terrorist organization and by using social media to propagate ISIS’s threats to injure U.S. service members,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations and threaten members of our military.”
United States Attorney David J. Freed said, “We in law enforcement know that the fight against terrorism is not limited to far-away battlefields. This sentence should serves as ample notice that we will cede the security of our community to no one. The outstanding work of the investigators and attorneys in this case has brought to justice an individual who provided real, material support to terrorist groups and who attempted to spread hate and destruction in our community and abroad. We will remain ever vigilant to protect the security of our citizens.”
"Mr. Aziz shared ISIL propaganda via social media, helping the terrorists' twisted worldview spread further, faster," said Michael Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. "Spewing violent jihadist beliefs, this young man – an American citizen – called for the murder of U.S. service members, and aided other radicalized individuals seeking to travel and take up arms alongside ISIL fighters. The dangers he posed are clear, and chilling. FBI Philadelphia's Joint Terrorism Task Force will never stop working to detect and disrupt the activities of terrorists and those who assist them."
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which includes the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police. Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom and Trial Attorneys Robert Sander and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.