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Saturday, 7 November 2020

Oregon man is charged with working with ISIS over five years to create propaganda and training materials - but feds don't seek pre-trial detention because he has physical disabilities

 An Oregon man was indicted after authorities said he supported the Islamic State group by creating and spreading violent propaganda and training materials - but prosecutors didn't seek to jail him before his trial because he has physical disabilities.

Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, 31, appeared Thursday in federal court in Portland on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and providing such support, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams and FBI Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon said.

Suburban Portland resident Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, 31, is accused of editing 32 issues of Al-Anfal (pictured), a newspaper for the ISIS-supporting Sunni Shield. The issues included stories that encouraged acts of violence and explained stabbing techniques and the workings of detonators

Suburban Portland resident Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, 31, is accused of editing 32 issues of Al-Anfal (pictured), a newspaper for the ISIS-supporting Sunni Shield. The issues included stories that encouraged acts of violence and explained stabbing techniques and the workings of detonators 

'The threat of ISIS-inspired terrorism remains very real thanks, in part, to an army of online supporters who produce propaganda that aims to incite 'lone actor' operators in the U.S. and around the world,' Cannon said.

Mothafar, who uses a wheelchair, was released on condition that he limit the use of electronic devices and stay in Oregon barring prior approval.

'Due to the fact that Mothafar has physical disabilities and is confined to a wheelchair, the government did not seek detention,' the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in a press release posted Friday.

The federal public defender appointed to represent him did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Mothafar lives in a Portland suburb.

Mothafar appeared Thursday in federal court in Portland on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and of providing such support

Mothafar appeared Thursday in federal court in Portland on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and of providing such support

The indictment by a federal grand jury alleges that between February 2015 until the time of his arrest Thursday, Mothafar conspired with Islamic State group members to provide support, including creating and editing publications and articles.

In December 2019, according to the indictment, Mothafar tried to get information on the piloting of a drone for Saleck Ould Cheikh Mohamedou.

Mohamedou, currently incarcerated in Mauritania, is an Islamic extremist who was convicted of attempt ing to assassinate the African country's then-President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. 

Mothafar allegedly tried to get information on the piloting of a drone for Saleck Ould Cheikh Mohamedou (pictured), who is currently in prison in Mauritania for attempting to assassinate that country's then-president

Mothafar allegedly tried to get information on the piloting of a drone for Saleck Ould Cheikh Mohamedou (pictured), who is currently in prison in Mauritania for attempting to assassinate that country's then-president

Mothafar is accused of being a conduit of information from ISIS to Al Dura'a al Sunni, or Sunni Shield, a pro-Islamic State internet-based media organization that published a newspaper called Al-Anfal.

He edited and published 32 issues of Al-Anfal, which ran stories with titles such as 'Effective Stabbing Techniques' and 'How Does a Detonator Work,' the government alleged.

One story from a June 2018 issue encouraged readers to carry out attacks in their home countries if they were unable to join ISIS in active fighting, according to the indictment.

Another issue carried a graphic depicting the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower on fire, captioned 'Soon in the Heart of Your Lands,' the document states.

Mothafar is also accused of moderating Sunni Shield's private social-media chat rooms and creating a 'bot' that would help answer questions, spread information, and make user identities anonymous.

He faces a charge that he lied on an immigration form, allegedly checking 'no' in response to a question asking whether he had ever associated with any terrorist group.


Mothafar faces another charge for allegedly telling the same thing to an immigration official during a citizenship interview.

Each of the three counts of providing material support to a designated terrorist organization carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The charge of making a false statement on an immigration form could bring a sentence of up to 25 years if it's proven Mothafar did it to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

In January 2019, Mothafar told an ISIS supporter in an online chat that he was worried about using his real name in connection with Sunni Shield, the indictment states.

'If published for the foundation,' he allegedly wrote, 'it could mean 4 terror.'

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