Americans are bewildered by a man who owns an upstate New York food store that funded ISIS, tried to send jihadists to Syria to fight with the terrorist group and plotted to do some killing himself -- by gunning down U.S. troops who had served in Iraq -- federal authorities alleged Tuesday.
Mufid A. Elfgeeh, 30, was arrested on May 31, though federal officials didn't outline the case against him until Tuesday. According to an indictment, he faces three counts of trying "to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization" (namely, ISIS), one count of attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, two counts of having an unregistered firearm silencer and one for possessing guns or silencers "in furtherance of a crime of violence," according to CNN.
The public defender representing Elfgeeh, Mark Hosken, said Tuesday that he had seen the indictment and will enter a plea of not guilty when his client appears in court on Thursday morning.
The federal investigation into Elfgeeh began in early 2013 and a world away from the Middle East, where ISIS (also known as ISIL and the Islamic State) has waged a brutal campaign in recent years. Citing the terror group's threat to the region and gruesome tactics -- such as the recent beheadings of two American journalists -- the U.S. government has struck ISIS targets from the air in Iraq and threatened to go after it in Syria as well, according to CNN.
A look at Twitter suggests that Elfgeeh didn't stand with his adopted country in this fight, according to an affidavit in support of a search warrant in his case.
He allegedly wrote in one tweet: "Al Qaeda said it loud and clear: we are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the earth and the people." In another message, Elfgeeh purportedly stated ISIS "will one day rule the world with the will of Allah," according to CNN.
The affidavit alleges that he urged people to donate a third of their salary or, at least, "#Five_thousand_dollars_from_every_household" (as stated in one tweet) -- stressing the importance of supporting groups like ISIS financially.
But the Yemeni-born owner and operator of Halal Mojo and Food Mart, dubbed Mojoe's by some, in Rochester may have wanted to be more than just a financial supporter. Court documents state that -- if he couldn't sell his store -- Elfgeeh wanted to export "those who are fed up (and want) to go to war and be jihadists," according to CNN.
The FBI informants were among those Elfgeeh actively recruited to join ISIS as jihadists, the affidavit states. He helped them by doing things like paying one of their passport costs, coordinating travel arrangements and setting them up with contacts in the terror group under the guise of going "to the university," which was code for joining ISIS.
Court documents, citing Western Union records, allege that Elfgeeh also sent $600 to a Yemeni man that he believed wanted to join the terrorist group.
He may have had plans of his own in the United States. The affidavit points to conversations with the two FBI informants in which Elfgeeh talked about getting his hands on guns and ammunition to inflict violence stateside. According to the affidavit, Elfgeeh once said he might kill "five or ten already, 15, something like that ... then we" will post video or another message online to explain why he did it, according to CNN.
"We want ... to start shooting those who were in the Army who went to Iraq," he said in April, according to the document.
According to Channel 7 in New York City, Police Commissioner William Bratton says the NYPD is remaining vigilant in the face of possible new terror threats against New York City.
An ISIS terror group blog has urged so-called lone wolf terrorists to target the Crossroads of the World along with detailed bomb-making instructions, though Bratton says there are no specific threats.
Officials say it is alarming, but there is always a heavy police presence in Times Square, according to Channel 7.
Bratton said ISIS is more of a threat than al-Qaida because of their effective use of social media to recruit followers.
In addition to Times Square, the web site called for attacks on the Las Vegas strip and mass transit, according to Channel 7.
"We are as prepared as any entity can be to deal with threats," Bratton said. "But the reality is that we are living in a newer era of potential terrorism."
The NYPD Bomb Squad detonated a device four years ago after a vendor alerted police. That incident was linked to a US citizen with ties to the Taliban, according to Channel 7.