The owner of a Rochester, N.Y., pizza parlor pleaded guilty on Thursday to trying to recruit people to join Islamic extremists in the Middle East.
The man, 31-year-old Mufid Elfgeeh, used the Internet to find potential supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), send them propaganda and support their efforts to join the extremist group in Syria, officials alleged.
To spread his message, Elfgeeh used a combination of three Twitter accounts, 23 Facebook accounts and one WhatsApp account, which he used to seek out funding and support radical fighters, according to details in his plea agreement.
From late 2013 to early 2014, Elfgeeh. a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, began communicating with two people who appeared willing to travel to Syria and join the jihadist fight.
Among other steps, Elfgeeh connected the two people with overseas contacts and bought them a laptop computer and a high-definition camera to use on their journey. He also gave one of the travelers $1,000 in cash to buy two handguns, and paid money so that one of the two people could obtain a copy of his birth certificate.
Unbeknownst to Elfgeeh, both people were cooperating with the FBI.
In other cases, Elfgeeh sent $600 to someone in Yemen to help them get into Syria, and communicated with different groups of fighters in Syria to get them to join ISIS.
“Thanks to today’s convictions, one of the first ISIL recruiters ever captured in this country stands convicted of terrorism related charges,” U.S. attorney William Hochul said in a statement, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “While our case against this defendant will conclude with a very long jail sentence, our ongoing efforts to defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups will continue until all are brought to justice.”
He was arrested in May of 2014, after retrieving the two handguns purchased with his $1,000.
Under the terms of Elfgeeh’s plea agreement, prosecutors recommended that he be sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
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