Guilty Plea To Terrorism Charges
It could be the first plea of its kind in the US fight against terrorism. A man who ran MoJoe's pizza joint and convenience store on Clinton Avenue North in Rochester pleaded guilty Thursday.
He admitted to helping ISIS.
Mufid A. Elfgeeh could get up to 30-years in prison for his plea of guilty on two of four federal charges: attempting to provide material support to a known terrorist organization, ISIS. Through an Arabic translator, Elfgeeh told federal District Court Judge for western New York Elizabeth Wolford that he tried to recruit three men, send money, and bought two handguns, to shoot returning American soldiers according to prosecutors. The 2014 purchase of those weapons resulted in his arrest by an FBI Rochester Terrorism task force.
"Mufid Elfgeeh failed because law enforcement used its best weapon – unity,” said Special Agent in Charge Cohen of the FBI’s Buffalo Division in a statement furnished to WXXI. “Our success in this case is directly linked to the notion that we are stronger and more formidable working in concert with our community than standing alone."
Elfgeeh used social media to share his support for violent jihad and the current leader of ISIS. He had 3 Twitter and 23 Facebook accounts under various names and used What's App - a popular phone messaging app.
In court, Elfgeeh said beginning in late 2013 he tried to convince two men to go fight for ISIS. He had a contact in Yemen, a known jihadist, who could get them from Turkey into an ISIS safe house in Syria. If they proved trustworthy the men could join the fight. They even purchased flights to Turkey for June of 2014. It turned out the men were working for the FBI.
Mufid Elfgeeh pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIL through his various efforts to recruit individuals, raise funds and coordinate logistics for the designated terrorist group. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin (provided statement)
He said beginning in late 2013 he tried to convince two men to go fight for ISIS. He had a contact in Yemen, a known jihadist, who could get them from Turkey into an ISIS safe house in Syria. If they proved trustworthy the men could join the fight. They even purchased flights to Turkey for June of 2014. It turned out the men were working for the FBI.
In a statement, the US Attorney for western New York Bill Hochul said, “One of the first ISIL recruiters ever captured in this country stands convicted of terrorism related charges. While our case against this defendant will conclude with a very long jail sentence, our ongoing efforts to defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups will continue until all are brought to justice."
Elfgeeh's plea agreement calls for a 22-and-a-half-year prison term, forfeiture of the weapons, with no appeal. He'll be on parole if he ever gets released from prison. Judge Wolford set sentencing for 2 pm on March 17, 2016.
Other Notes From Court
Elfgeeh told the judge he'll be 32 in two weeks (around New Years). He was educated to the seventh grade in Yemen, came here and became a US citizen in 1998. He never continued his education here.
He admitted he's been treated for anxiety for about year - he gets nervous and angers quickly he said, and takes Lithium and Risperidone for that, and Omeprazole (Prilosec) for acid reflux.
Elfgeeh pleaded guilty to two of the four counts in a federal indictment from May 2014, and forfeited two weapons seized when he was arrested: a Walther .32 handgun with a silencer and 100-rounds of ammunition, along with a Glock 9 milimeter handgun, silencer and 100-rounds of ammo. He paid an FBI informer more than a thousand dollars for the weapons in May 2014. He was arrested by an FBI Rochester task force fighting terrorism when he took delivery of the weapons two days later.