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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ISIS Supporter Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To Foreign Terrorist Organization And Identity Theft

Defendant Admits Creating Twitter and Facebook Accounts For People He Believed Were Supporters of ISIS

SAN FRANCISCO –Amer Sinan Alhaggagi pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and identity theft charges, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The plea was accepted by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer.  In pleading guilty today, Alhaggagi admitted, without a written agreement, he was guilty of all the charges pending against him. 

During the hearing today, Alhaggagi, 23, of Oakland, Calif., admitted he knowingly attempted to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B.  Specifically, Alhaggagi admitted that in October and November of 2016, he created Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts along with the Gmail accounts that were necessary to authenticate them for individuals he believed were ISIS supporters.  ISIS was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States Secretary of State in 2014.  

In addition, Alhaggagi admitted that in the Fall of 2016 he communicated with two individuals who asked him to set up social media accounts.  Alhaggagi communicated with the individuals from his computer while he was in Oakland, Calif., and admitted opening several Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail accounts at their request.  Alhaggagi admitted knowing that both of the individuals were ISIS sympathizers and that by opening the social media accounts he was providing a service to ISIS.  According to government lawyers at the hearing, at least one of the individuals Alhaggagi opened accounts for was an actual member of ISIS.  

Additionally, Alhaggagi admitted that on November 29, 2016, the day of his arrest, he possessed a device used to make counterfeit credit cards and that between July and August 2016, he used a credit card with someone else’s name to buy more than $1,000 worth of clothes for himself online.

A federal grand jury indicted Alhaggagi on July 21, 2017, with one count of knowingly attempting to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B; one count of possessing an identity theft device, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(4); one count of unauthorized identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2); and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  

Judge Breyer scheduled Alhaggagi’s sentencing hearing for November 20, 2018.  Alhaggagi faces the following maximum statutory penalties:
 

Charge

Maximum Prison Term

Maximum Term of Supervised Release (following release from prison)

Maximum Fine

Attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization

20 Years

Life time of supervised release

$250,000

Possession of device-making equipment

15 years

3 years

$250,000

Using an unauthorized

access device

10 years

3 years

$250,000

Aggravated identity theft

2 years (consecutive to prison term

3 years

$250,000

 

In addition, the court may order that the defendant pay additional fines and restitution, if appropriate.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the United States Department of Justice National Security Division, the Berkeley Police Department, and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force including, the Oakland Police Department.

 

Updated July 18, 2018