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Press Release

Pennsylvania Resident Charged With Providing Material Support To Isil

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG - A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resident was arrested today on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 19, a U.S. citizen, is charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania following his arrest.  His initial appearance will be at 4:30 p.m. in Harrisburg. 

The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith of the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.

“According to the allegations in the complaint, Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz conspired to provide and attempted to provide material support to ISIL by propagating their hateful rhetoric on social media and aiding individuals in their pursuit of traveling overseas to join the designated foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “A prior physical search of Aziz’s residence also revealed a tactical-style backpack in his closet, which contained high-capacity weapons magazines, ammunition, a knife and other survival items.  The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold accountable any and all those who seek to provide material support to terrorists, and to disrupt potential attacks in the United States before they happen.”

“The charges in this case focus on Aziz’s efforts to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for the Islamic State,” said U.S. Attorney Smith.  “These charges are a testament to the perseverance and dedication of those who stand watch over our nation and a clear message that those who support terrorism – will face justice.”

“The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) will move with speed to detect and disrupt those who are involved in facilitation or operational planning in support of a terrorist organization.  There is no difference between the two, and we will aggressively pursue every threat in order to protect our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sweeney.  “In this instance, Aziz operated quietly on behalf of the Islamic State and facilitated others looking to do the same.”  Sweeney extended his appreciation to the Harrisburg-based members of FBI Philadelphia’s JTTF, and he encouraged anyone with concerns about suspicious behavior to contact appropriate authorities.

According to the complaint, Aziz has used at least 57 different Twitter accounts to advocate violence against the United States and its citizens, to disseminate ISIL propaganda and espouse pro-ISIL views.  Aziz is alleged to have posted a hyperlink containing the names, addresses, and other identifying information of 100 reported members of the U.S. Military and calls for violence against them.  Additionally, on at least three occasions, Aziz allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL.  In one instance, Aziz allegedly acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIL.  According to the allegations in the complaint, Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between these ISIL supporters.

A prior search of a backpack located in Aziz’s closet identified five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines, a modified kitchen knife, a thumb drive, medication, and a balaclava.

A criminal complaint is only a charge is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, and the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s JTTF, which includes the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police. This case is being prosecuted Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom and by trial Attorneys Robert Sander and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


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Statement of U.S. Attorney Peter Smith

The Aziz case will proceed in federal court in accordance with the law. 

The announcement of the charges in this case, as well as in any other terrorism case, must not cause us to give in to fear or unreasonable anger.

Every day, thousands of law-abiding Muslims in Central Pennsylvania work, raise families, attend school, shop, travel and associate with their neighbors and communities peacefully, while at the same time observing their own religious beliefs and ethnic heritage.

The acts and doctrines of violent and delusional terrorists must not become an excuse for hasty or emotional acts of hostility, bigotry or violence in our own society.  Such actions only serve the interests of the terrorists and violent extremists – they are part of what they want to achieve.

Violations of civil rights, hate crimes, and threats against individuals, Muslim communities or any other ethnic group, will be investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities just as are acts of terrorism or aiding it. 

We must be alert, responsible and smart, as demonstrated by the actions of the FBI and other agencies in this case.  Continuing to work with and through federal, state and local law enforcement while applying the law properly are the best and surest ways to fight and defeat terrorism.


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Updated February 4, 2016

National Security