Ohio man pleads guilty to trying to support Islamic State


WASHINGTON, DC: An Ohio man pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to attempting to provide material support to Islamic State and to possessing a firearm as a felon.

Amir Said Rahman Al-Ghazi, 39, who changed his name from Robert McCollum last year, repeatedly posted on social media in 2014 and 2015, pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and urging others to join the militant group, according to court records.

Al-Ghazi entered his guilty plea in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in Cleveland. He will await his June 23 sentencing in the custody of the US Marshals service.

Al-Ghazi was arrested and charged last June after buying an AK-47 assault rifle from an FBI undercover employee. A subsequent search of his house turned up a handgun, a sword, and an Islamic State flag, among other items, according to the federal complaint against him.

Federal authorities began tracking Al-Ghazi after his social media posts, such as “Join the Islamic State If not represent the caliphate wherever You Are America to Australia,” caught their attention.

Multiple FBI informants then posed as Islamic State sympathizers to engage with Al-Ghazi online between July 2014 and June 2015, according to court records.

In conversations with an FBI informant in 2015, Al-Ghazi expressed desires to kill non-Muslims and to create a propaganda video for the group, floating ideas for a video that would depict Islamic State members “capturing trucks,” “hitting the oil pipeline,” and “conducting drive-bys on cops,” said the federal complaint against him.

Federal prosecutors also brought multiple counts of marijuana trafficking against Al-Ghazi, based on 24 sales he conducted with undercover informants, though Al-Ghazi’s guilty plea only addressed the firearms and material support charges. His plea agreement with federal prosecutors was sealed.

Al-Ghazi is one of more than 80 individuals whom the United States has charged with Islamic State-related crimes since 2013.

On Friday, a Mississippi man pleaded guilty in federal court to attempting to join the militant group in Syria with his wife last summer.

Source: Reuters