An Edgewood man is facing federal charges after allegedly getting money he believed was from a terrorist organization for conducting an attack on U.S. soil.
Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of the 300 block of McCann Street in Edgewood, was arrested Friday on a federal criminal complaint. The criminal complaint charges him with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL, obstruction of agency proceeding and making false statements and falsifying or concealing material facts.
In June, the FBI learned about someone in Egypt who was trying to send money to the United States, "possibly for nefarious purposes," according to the complaint. Western Union transaction records showed that person transferred $1,000 to Elshinawy on June 28.
FBI agents watched Elshinawy use the drive-up ATM at his bank and confirmed with bank records that he made an $800 cash deposit into his count then transferred $200 to a joint account shared with his wife, the complaint states.
In July, Elshinawy told FBI agents the money was from his mother who lives in Egypt. When agents showed him the Western Union receipt with the sender's name, he told them the money was to buy an iPhone for a friend.
When agents told him he could face imprisonment by giving a false statement, he said a childhood friend of his had been arrested on terrorism-related offenses in Egypt and had fled to Syria once he was released and the two of them started talking through social media and that friend had connected him with a member of ISIL, the criminal complaint states.
Elshinawy told agents he received payments from the ISIL operative and was told to use the money for "operational purposes" which he interpreted as causing destruction or committing a terrorist attack in the U.S., the complaint states.
He said he had no intention of conducting an attack, but saw it as an opportunity to "make money and take it from 'thieves'" and used the money to buy furniture and pay bills, documents state.
The FBI believes Elshinawy received at least $8,700 from those he believed were associated with ISIL and used some of the money to buy communication devices which investigators say look like they've been used in connection with ISIL-related activities, some was withdrawn and is untraceable and some may have been used to pay personal expenses, according to the affadavit
“This case demonstrates how terrorists exploit modern technology to inculcate sympathizers and build hidden networks, but federal agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly and using every available lawful tool to disrupt their evil schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenstein. “The affidavit alleges that Mr. Elshinawy initially told the FBI that he was defrauding the terrorists, but further investigation showed that Mr. Elshinawy was supporting the terrorists and misleading the FBI.”
The investigation showed on Feb. 17 Elshinawy pledged allegiance to ISIL and asked his childhood friend to deliver the message.
"Elshinawy also stated that his soul was over there with the jihadists and that every time he saw the news, he smiled," a release from the Department of Justice.
According to the release, Elshinawy told his brother on April 27 that he had pledged allegiance to ISIL and in May told his brother he wanted to die as a martyr for the Islamic State.