WNY man, admitted ISIS sympathizer, likely to face decades in prison

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Rochester man admitted in federal court Thursday to two charges of trying to help recruit two people to fight for ISIS in Syria.

Turns out, those two people were FBI informants, and his involvement with them eventually led to his arrest on a series of federal charges.

Mufid Elfgeeh, 31, was originally charged with attempting to kill members of the U.S. military and possessing illegal firearms, among other charges in a total of two federal cases. The two charges to which Elfgeeh admitted — attempting to help provide resources and personnel to a known foreign terrorist organization — each carry a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

As part of the plea deal, however, Elfgeeh faces 22 and a half years in federal prison when he’s sentenced next year.

Elfgeeh discussed fighting with ISIS and jihad in several countries in 2013 and 2014 with two others who turned out to be FBI informants.

Officials say Elfgeeh took a number of steps to prepare those two people for a trip to Syria. The plan included sending $600 to someone in Yemen to assist the sources in their travel, education and training.

They also say Elfgeeh used Twitter, Facebook and other social media to receive and disseminate information to terrorists, and to declare his interest in a violent jihad.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul, who attended Thursday’s hearing, said Elfgeeh was the first person in the country to be arrested and convicted of recruiting for terrorism purposes.

“While our case against this defendant will conclude with a very long jail sentence, our ongoing efforts to defeat ISIL [ISIS] and other terrorist groups will continue until all are brought to justice,” Hochul said.

Elfgeeh is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen who previously operated a Rochester food store. He will be sentenced on March 17.

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