US national Nader Elhuzayel from California was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he used social media to get in touch with ISIL supporters and to promote and openly express loyalty to the terrorist organization.
Together with Muhanad Badawi, he conspired against the United States and posted on social media that “it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield,” and they referred to ISIL as “we,” says the US Department of Justice.
Badawi created the account to incite violence against non-Muslims, while Elhuzayel “used the account to ask Allah to grant him martyrdom and success in leaving U.S. to fight for his cause and to ask Allah to ‘destroy your enemies and give the Islamic state victory,’” reads the Department’s release. A video of Elhuzayel pledging his loyalty to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also found. Evidence also shows Elhuzayel was in touch with Texas gunman Elton Simpson.
While on a trip to join ISIL in May 2015, Badawi and Elhuzayel were captured and arrested in Los Angeles for terrorism and bank fraud. Now in their early 20s, Badawi faces 35 years in federal prison while Elhuzayel will be supervised for life after release.
“The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.
Despite annual spending on cyber defense in the billions of dollars, the US is still vulnerable. Terrorists have adapted their methods as social media has become the preferred method for recruitment and indoctrination. Technology advancements make it easy for them to spread propaganda and infiltrate recruits in various sectors. Besides the fear they spread, ISIL hackers have attempted to break into US government computers and launch attacks on key US institutions.