The FBI has arrested a Maryland man for allegedly attempting to provide material support to ISIS and lying about it to authorities.
Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of Edgewood, Md., just outside Baltimore, was arrested Friday. He made his first appearance in court today.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said Elshinawy “received money he believed was provided by ISIL in order to conduct an attack on U.S. soil.”
It began in June, when the FBI started investigating a tip that someone in Egypt was attempting to send money to the U.S. for possible nefarious purposes; that person sent Elshinawy $1,000 on June 28. On July 17, the FBI interviewed the Maryland man, at which time he told investigators the money came from his mother to buy an iPhone, according to the FBI.
“Later, he admitted that a childhood friend had contacted him a few months earlier to connect him, through social media, with an unidentified member of ISIL… Elshinawy began communicating with the unidentified ISIL operative through a method of communication used by ISIL. The defendant also admitted that he understood the individual in Egypt who wire transferred the money on June 28, 2015, also to be an ISIL operative.”
He received a total of $8,700 in several payments through PayPal and Western Union for “operational purposes,” the FBI says.
Investigators found that Elshinawy pledged loyalty to ISIS back in February and asked his childhood friend, with whom he exchanged ISIS propaganda, to deliver his vow. In communications with his brother in May, the FBI said, Elshinawy said he wanted to die as a martyr for ISIS.
“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,” Carlin said.
According to the criminal complaint, Elshinawy initially told officials that he was a hero for taking money away from ISIS and the FBI “should reward him.” He reportedly “used social media, multiple email accounts and ‘pay as you go’ phones subscribed to him under various aliases to communicate with the individuals he understood to be associated with ISIL.”
Elshinawy faces up to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, eight years for obstruction and eight years for making false statements.
An Islamic lecturer in New York City with a slightly different name spelling, Mohammad Elshinawy, posted on his Facebook page that he doesn’t know the arrested Maryland man “nor is he a distant relative as far as I know.”
“Nonetheless, just as I would hate that people believe and spread whatever they may hear about me, I also hate speaking on this incident based on mere conjecture. That’s just not what a Muslim does,” he wrote. “In these troubling times, we must be extra diligent about our views to verify their correctness, our statements to verify their wisdom, and the news we spread to verify its accuracy.”
“And of course, Islam does not condone the spilling of innocent blood and I am 100% against ISIS and their violent views. Having said that, may Allah protect our brothers and sisters all over the world, and all the oppressed and distressed of humanity.”
This Elshinawy has claimed that the NYPD has had him under surveillance since 2004, according to the ACLU. “As a result of this surveillance, Mr. Elshinawy has altered the content of his lectures to avoid certain topics—for example, politics or certain periods in Islamic history—that he worries would be misreported to or misinterpreted by the NYPD. Similarly, he has called off religious study sessions, fearing some of the participants were informants.”