Conspiring with Non-Indicted Co-Conspirators

Arizona Man Charged with Providing Material Support to ISIL.

It is now dangerous to share social media contact information with others.

In a recent padding of the FBI statistics on terrorism:


In August 2014, a 24-year-old New York City resident (CC-1) learned via social media that El Gammal had posted social media comments that supported ISIL. Minutes later, CC-1 contacted El Gammal. Over the next several months, CC-1 and El Gammal continued corresponding over the Internet, although CC-1 deleted many of these exchanges.

In the midst of these communications, in October 2014, El Gammal traveled to Manhattan, New York, where CC-1 was enrolled in college, and contacted and met with CC-1. While in New York City, El Gammal also contacted another co-conspirator (CC-2), who lived in Turkey, about CC-1’s plans to travel to the Middle East. El Gammal later provided CC-1 with social media contact information for CC-2. Thereafter, El Gammal and CC-2 had multiple social media exchanges about CC-1 traveling to the Middle East. In addition, CC-1 began communicating with CC-2, introducing himself as a friend of “Gammal’s.”

In late January 2015, CC-1 abruptly left New York City for Istanbul. After CC-1 arrived in Turkey, El Gammal continued to communicate with him over the Internet, providing advice on traveling toward Syria and on meeting with CC-2. After CC-1 arrived in Syria, he received military-type training from ISIL between early February and at least early May 2015.

On May 7, 2015, CC-1 reported to El Gammal that “everything [was] going according to plan.”

There is a big jump between sharing social media contact information with someone going overseas, even to Turkey, and what the lay summary calls:

…assisting a New York college student to travel to Syria to obtain military training from ISIL…

Hardly.

You and I might talk about the government of the United States, among other things, but sharing social media contacts of people living in the D.C. area doesn’t make me a co-conspirator in some future unlawful act you commit.

In the FBI’s view:

“As alleged, Gammal helped a college student in New York receive terrorist training in Syria through a contact in Turkey, in order to support ISIL,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “These relationships were allegedly made and solidified through the internet while Gammal was in Arizona. This is another example of how social media is utilized for nefarious and criminal purposes around the world.

That’s an absurdity wrapped in a paranoid imagination.

Gammal could have just as well provided a cellphone number for CC2. Would that make cellphones the origin of “nefarious and criminal purposes around the world?”

The Islamic State is and has been a distasteful organization with questionable tactics. However, much of its stature in the world is due to the hyping of the organization by the FBI and others.

Want to see ISIS diminished? Stop treating it as a serious adversary, which it’s not. People will fairly quickly lose interest when it is no long front page news.

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