An undercover FBI investigation has lead to the arrest of two men, Edward Schimenti and Joseph Jones, both 35, of Chicago.
The men are accused of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State. Their support included an attempt to access an ISIS network in order to smuggle Jihadists and detonators into Syria.
In a 77 page criminal complaint, the FBI says they have images of both men “posing with the ISIS flag at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion”, according to Heatstreet. Also included in the report are allegations that Schimenti was preparing an attack on North Chicago boot-camp Naval Station Great Lakes.
After seeing “radical” posts from the men on social media, the FBI began monitoring the pair. Allegedly, the posts surrounded their support of terrorism and ISIS.
An undercover FBI agent approached Jones in September, 2015 when Jones was at Zion Police Department, giving a statement about a friends murder. Undercover agents continued the contact, developing a relationship with both men.
Utilizing four federal agents and a “fifth person” cooperating with authorities, the feds tricked the would-be terrorists into believing they’d accessed an ISIS network for smuggling, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
During a 19-month long investigation of the men, agents say there were a number of alarming conversations (some of them recorded):
- They talked about watching ISIS propaganda videos
- Jones shared “gruesome videos” of child soldiers beheading people, victims being drowned in a cage, and people dying in a rocket grenade explosion
- Jones showed a video titled “Some of the Deadly Stabbing Ways: Do not Forget to Poison the Knife.”
- Jones told one agent he fantasizes about joining ISIS “every night and day”
- Schimenti talked about dropping homosexuals off the Willis Tower
- Schimenti wanted to see an ISIS flag flying over the White House
- Schimenti hoped if allah willed it “the brothers will just have me be the one to cut the neck”
- Jones shared a 46-page document titled, “A Brief Guide to the Islamic State ,” online
Both men allegedly helped the individual cooperating with authorities to obtain cell phones that could be used as detonators and introduced him to an undercover agent they thought could get him into Syria. According to the records, once he left, the men planned to deliver more detonators through the cooperator’s “aunt”.
A local Black Lives Matter chapter had a run-in with Schimenti in April 2015. Clyde McLemore, chair of the chapter, told The Chicago Tribune that during a march condemning police actions in the shooting of Justus Howell, Schimenti spoke. “We had to take the mike away from him because he was too radical,” McLemore recalls. “In his speech he said ‘kill the police’ and talked about blowing up the police station.”
Local Muslim leaders also had their sights on the two for showing “signs of radicalization” as well.
“They leaned toward a more militant form of Islam,” said Junard Latif, coordinator at Ahmadiyya Muslim Community mosque. “I can’t say enough how sad it is that people are drawn to this type of action.”
Their families are in disbelief. Schimenti’s mother said, “It’s ridiculous. Eddie’s not like that.” Jones’ family says, “We did not raise our children like that, and we don’t believe in that.” Although they knew Jones had converted to Islam, they expressed surprise at the charges. “We didn’t know he was radicalized like that,” Wayne Jones said.
The two were in court on Wednesday. They did not enter a plea but they’re expected back in court Monday.
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.
Snowden releases warning on leaked NSA hacking program