A Charlotte man, North Carolina man is accused of trying to create an ISIS “sleeper cell” in the United States to target members of the military.
The complaint against Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, comes as federal authorities in Virginia charged a former transit system police officer, Nicholas Young, with allegedly seeking to help ISIS.
Concerns about homegrown terrorism have increased since the San Bernardino and Orlando, Florida mass shootings, in which the shooters were already living in America.
The charges against Hendricks were announced on August 4.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Complaint Says Hendricks Used Social Media to Recruit Others Interested in Committing Terrorist Attacks
Hendricks contacted a man over social media to recruit him in the spring of 2015, according to the complaint, says Fox46 Charlotte.
Fox46 says Hendricks allegedly said he “needed people” and that there were “brothers” in Texas and Mexico he was trying to get together face-to-face “to train together, according to the complaint.”
2. Hendricks Wanted to Create an ISIS ‘Sleeper Cell’ in The United States & Use it to Target Military Members, The Complaint Says
According to ABC News, Hendricks allegedly told a person about his intentions to create a “sleeper cell” within the United States and “mentioned military members as potential targets,” the complaint said.
The Justice Department claims that Hendricks said he had 10 people signed up for the cell, ABC says. The U.S. Attorney’s release says “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 ISIL.”
3. Hendricks Was in Contact With Other People Accused of Planning Terrorist Attacks, Including Against a Cartoon Contest, Says The Complaint
According to ABC News, federal officials accuse Hendricks of contacting Elton Simpson, who was one of the two men who unsuccessfully tried to target a “Draw Prophet Muhammad contest” in Garland, Texas in 2015.
The U.S. Attorney’s release says that Hendricks contacted Simpson using social media in 2015. Simpson along with Nadir Hamid Soofi, “was inspired by ISIL and launched the attack on the ‘First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest’ in Garland,” says the release.
Simpson and Soofi were killed by Garland police when they opened fire, wounding a security guard, says the release. The complaint accuses Hendricks of connecting a confidential informant to Simpson and directing the informant to go to Garland. Hendricks allegedly said: “If you see that pig (meaning the organizer of the contest) make your ‘voice’ heard against her,” said the complaint, according to the news release.
4. Hendricks Spoke About Martyrdom & an Ohio Weapons-Related Arrest Led to Him, The Complaint Says
According to the complaint, a confidential informant said Hendricks “tested his religious knowledge and commitment,” asking about his willingness to commit “jihad,” to die as a “martyr” and to enter “jannah” or paradise, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The U.S. Attorney’s release says that, in June 2015, a man was arrested in Ohio “after attempting to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer.” This man had “pledged allegiance to ISIL in social media and made statements expressing interest in conducting attacks in the United States,” says the release.
That man’s arrest led authorities to Hendricks because Hendricks had contacted the man “over social media to recruit him in the spring of 2015, according to the complaint,” the release says.
5. Hendricks Spoke About Allah & Told an Informant to Download a Training Document, The Complaint Says
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that, on April 2015, Hendricks told an undercover agent to download a document called “GPS for the Ghuraba in the U.S.,” which has a section called “Final Advice” and advocates that “brothers and sisters” should not allow themselves to go to jail.
The section also allegedly encouraged Muslims to die as a “Shaheed” (martyr), to “Boobie trap your homes,” to “lay in wait for them” and to “never leave your home without your AK-47 or M16,” says the U.S. Attorney’s release, citing the complaint.
According to the complaint, Hendricks said: “It’s hard to sift through brothers;” “Allah chooses only the few;” and “Everyday I do this day in and day out.”
According to The New York Daily News, Hendricks was arrested in Ohio.