Erick Jamal Hendricks of Charlotte, North Carolina was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
“Hendricks used social media to recruit others to plan and carry out attacks on our homeland in the name of ISIS, with the goal of creating a sleeper cell on our soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.
“Hendricks represents the significant online ISIS threat that we face daily – a U.S. citizen that becomes radicalized online and attempts to recruit and train individuals to commit jihad, all while on American soil,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “The FBI urges the public to report information regarding individuals pledging their allegiance to ISIS or other identified terrorist groups.”
Hendricks said his goal was to create a sleeper cell to be trained and housed at a secure compound that would conduct attacks in the U.S. He mentioned potential targets including military members whose information was released by ISIS, and Pamela Geller, who organized the “Draw Prophet Mohammad contest” in Garland, Texas, on May 3, 2015.
Hendricks claimed to have 10 members signed up for his group, according court documents and trial testimony.
Among those contacted by Hendricks was a man named Amir Al-Ghazi, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS in social media and made statements expressing interest in conducting attacks in the U.S. Al-Ghazi 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 paradise.
Al-Ghazi understood these statements to mean Hendricks was recruiting people to train together to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S. Al-Ghazi also believed Hendricks and the “brothers in Texas and Mexico” may have been responsible for the thwarted terrorist attack on Geller and the “Draw Mohammed” contest.
Court documents show Hendricks was in touch with the perpetrators of that attack through social media.
Al-Ghazi was eventually arrested after attempting to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer. He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and being a felon in possession of firearms.