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N.Y. Man Pleads Guilty To Recruiting For ISIS, Could Face 30-Year Prison Term

A handout provided by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office shows Mufid Elfgeeh's mug shot from 2014.
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A handout provided by the Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office shows Mufid Elfgeeh's mug shot from 2014.

More than a year after his arrest on terrorism-related charges, Mufid A. Elfgeeh of Rochester, N.Y., has pleaded guilty to trying to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Elfgeeh admitted to raising money and recruiting for the extremist group.

U.S. officials say that Elfgeeh used social media to send and receive information about terrorist groups in Syria and other countries, and that he plotted to help two recruits travel from the U.S. to Syria.

"Thanks to today's convictions, one of the first ISIL recruiters ever captured in this country stands convicted of terrorism related charges," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. of the Western District of New York.

Hochul added: "As it did in this case, the public should continue to report to law enforcement any suspicious individuals or activities and thereby hasten the demise of these killers."

Elfgeeh faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; he'll be sentenced next March, after a court reviews his case.

The Justice Department provided these details about Elfgeeh's actions:

"From December 2013 through May 31, 2014, Elfgeeh actively recruited and attempted to send two individuals — referred to as Individuals A and B, both of whom were cooperating with the FBI at the time — to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIL.

"Elfgeeh sent anti-American ISIL propaganda videos to Individual B and arranged for an English-speaking ISIL contact to communicate with Individual B over Facebook about the state of affairs in Syria. In addition, Elfgeeh paid more than $240 for Individual B to obtain a copy of his birth certificate, passport photographs and an expedited passport. Elfgeeh also purchased a laptop computer and a high-definition action camera for Individuals A and B to take to Syria. The defendant provided guidance to Individuals A and B about traveling so that they could avoid detection and the vetting process involved in joining ISIL. In May 2014, Elfgeeh arranged for an overseas contact to coordinate the logistics of the trip and the admission of Individuals A and B into ISIL-controlled territory in Syria.

"According to the plea agreement and other court documents, Elfgeeh also sent $600 to an individual in Aden, Yemen, in an effort to assist that individual in traveling from Yemen to Syria for the purpose of joining and fighting on behalf of ISIL."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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