North Carolina man charged with conspiring to help ISIS, federal officials say

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Erick Jamal Hendricks allegedly tried to recruit people.

A Charlotte man was arrested Thursday morning on a federal complaint charging him with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, according to the Department of Justice.

A criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio revealed that 35-year-old Erick Jamal Hendricks tried to recruit people to train together and conduct terrorist attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS.

According to the complaint, last June, an individual in the Northern District of Ohio attempted to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer.

The person had pledged allegiance to ISIS on social media and made statements expressing interest in conducting attacks in the United States.

Hendricks had contacted the person over social media to recruit him in the spring of 2015, according to the complaint. Hendricks was arrested Wednesday in Charlotte.

He allegedly told the person that he "needed people" and wanted to meet in person. Hendricks also allegedly said there were several "brothers" located in Texas and Mexico that he was attempting to "get brothers to meet face to face" and that he wanted "to get brothers to train together."

The complaint, went on to say that the person said Hendricks tested his religious knowledge and commitment, inquiring about his willingness to commit "jihad," to die as a "martyr" and his desire to enter "jannah" (paradise).

According to the allegations, the person understood these statements to mean that Hendricks was recruiting people to train together for the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack in the U.S. and to see if the person was suitable a recruit. The person allegedly believed that Hendricks and the "brothers in Texas and Mexico" may have been responsible for a thwarted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, on May 3, 2015, and therefore the person decided to stay away from social media following the attack to minimize detection by law enforcement.

Hendricks also allegedly communicated over social media with several other people, including an undercover FBI employee.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COURT DOCUMENTS (.pdf)

According to the complaint, on April 16, 2015, Hendricks instructed the undercover employee to download the document "GPS for the Ghuraba in the U.S.", which included a section entitled "Final Advice" which advocated that "brothers and sisters" should not allow themselves to go to jail.

This section also allegedly encouraged Muslims to die as a martyr, to "Boobie trap your homes," to "lay in wait for them" and to "never leave your home without your AK-47 or M16."

The complaint also revealed, Hendricks directed the undercover employee to communicate online with other people and stated "It's hard to sift through brothers;" "Allah chooses only the few;" and "Every day I do this day in and day out."

Hendricks allegedly told another person that his goal was to create a sleeper cell to be trained and housed at a secure compound that would conduct attacks in the United States.

He mentioned that potential targets included military members whose information had been released by ISIS and the woman who organized the "Draw Prophet Mohammad contest," and he claimed to have 10 members signed up for his group, according to allegations in the complaint.

On April 23, 2015, Hendricks allegedly used social media to contact Elton Simpson, who, along with Nadir Hamid Soofi, was inspired by ISIS and launched the attack on the "First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" in Garland. Simpson and Soofi opened fire, wounding a security guard, before Garland police returned fire and killed both Simpson and Soofi.

According to the complaint, Hendricks also connected the undercover FBI employee with Simpson via social media; communicated with the undercover employee about the contest in Garland; and directed the employee to go to the contest.

Hendricks allegedly said: "If you see that pig (meaning the organizer of the contest) make your 'voice' heard against her." According to the complaint, he also asked the undercover employee a series of questions related to security at the event, including: "How big is the gathering?" "How many ppl?" "How many police/agents?" "Do you see feds there?' "Do you see snipers?" and "How many media?" Shortly thereafter, Simpson and Soofi committed the attack on the cartoon drawing contest.

If convicted, Hendricks faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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