A North Carolina man who pledged allegiance to ISIS was arrested in Ohio for plotting terror attacks inside the U.S., including a thwarted rampage against a controversial cartoon contest, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Erick Jamal Hendricks is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State, officials said in a statement.
The 35-year-old — who used social media to find and vet “brothers” before coaxing them into joining his group — may have organized the failed terror attack on a 2015 Texas cartooning contest that encouraged participants to draw Muhammad, Islam’s chief prophet, officials said.
“It’s hard to sift through brothers,” he allegedly told one of his recruits. “Allah chooses only the few.”
Bronx man charged with attempting to provide support to ISIS
AN UNDATED PHOTO. AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE MECKLENBURG COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.
This undated photo provided by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in Charlotte, N.C., shows Erick Jamal Hendricks. (Uncredited/AP)
Hendricks, from Charlotte, told his followers that he planned to build a sleeper cell of terrorists inside the U.S. who could launch attacks on behalf of the Islamic State. He claimed to have about 10 fighters in his network.
Days before the incendiary cartoon contest, Hendricks contacted one of the two men who then attempted to storm the event, investigators said.
Hendricks used social media to discuss details of attacker Elton Simpson’s would-be raid on the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland. He tried to arrange for another wannabe terrorist to help Simpson, investigators said — but that online recruit was an undercover FBI agent, officials said.
A North Carolina man suspected of plotting terror attacks against the U.S. on behalf of ISIS was arrested Thursday.
A North Carolina man suspected of plotting terror attacks against the U.S. on behalf of ISIS was arrested Thursday. (ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)
In pre-attack talks, Hendricks ordered both men to target the contest’s organizer. While the FBI did not identify the woman, inflammatory anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller proudly boasted about hosting the contest before and after it was attacked.
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“If you see that pig make your ‘voice’ heard against her,” he allegedly told them.
Simpson and his co-attacker, Nadir Hamid Soofi, were shot dead when they stormed the contest. No one else was injured.
Erick Jamal Hendricks contacted Elton Simpson (pictured) days before he tried to attack a contest for Muslim Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2015. (Les Stukenberg//The Daily Courier via AP)
If convicted, Hendricks faces up to 15 years behind bars.
On Wednesday, a Washington D.C. Metro police officer was arrested and accused of attempting to send money to ISIS overseas.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.