Hasan and Jonas Edmonds, arrested yesterday for conspiring to travel abroad to join the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and orchestrate an attack in the U.S., are the 9th and 10th people from Illinois linked to Islamic extremist activity since 2012.
Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old convert to Islam and a member of the National Guard, and his cousin, 29-year-old Jonas (Yunus) Edmonds told undercover investigators that they wanted to travel to ISIS-controlled territory with their families and become fighters but that, failing that, they wanted to attack the U.S. When Jonas Edmonds was unable to acquire a passport because of a past felony conviction, Hasan Edmonds continued his own travel plans while assisting Jonas in getting materials for and planning an attack on the military base where Hasan trained.
According to court documents, Hasan posted pro-ISIS statements and YouTube videos on his Facebook profile. He and Jonas were also vocal about their plans and beliefs in conversations with an undercover agent whom they met online. “Honestly we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did,” wrote Hasan Edmonds, in a reference to the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and kosher grocery store in Paris this January. “Hit here and then go to dawlah (ISIS controlled territory) inshaAllah (God willing). We’ll fight wherever need be…. Shahada (martyrdom) is a blessing.” In other conversations, he stated, “If I find myself stuck here [in the U.S.]. I intend to take advantage of being so close to the kuffar (apostates, used here to indicate non-Muslims),” and, “The best of mankind are the mujahideen (fighters). May Allah place me among their ranks.”
In speaking of planning an attack, he wrote, “We can surely do something. Even the kaffirs (apostates) here are fighting the police and government so we can really strick (sic) harder in tue (sic) cause of Allah,” and, “It would be hard to pull off a lager (sic) scale attack on the government but police stations and courts are pretty easy and its been done before by kufar (apostates) sometimes just one person.”
The cousins’ statements also attest to the effectiveness of ISIS’s recent strategy of developing worldwide franchises. “When the women are under the protection of the dawlah (ISIS) under any province under the dawlahs rule (any country) we are ready for whatever our orders may be,” Hasan Edmonds told an undercover agent according to court documents. In another context he allegedly stated, “I am fine being in Egypt, Sham, or Libya to be honest akhi (brother, meaning companion). I just want to answer the call.”
Groups including Ansar Beyt al Maqdis in Egypt and Boko Haram in Nigeria have pledged allegiance to ISIS in recent months, and ISIS strives to create the impression that it has a global presence in its propaganda.
ISIS has also been encouraging its adherents to either undertake domestic attacks or travel abroad in recent months.
This message has been reflected in the actions of its supporters. In 2015, the Edmonds plot is the third instance of ISIS supporters in the U.S. planning a domestic attack after unsuccessfully attempting to join ISIS. In January, Ohio resident Christopher Lee Cornell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. capitol after failing to connect with ISIS members abroad and in February, New York City residents Abdurasul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhmetov were arrested for attempting to join ISIS and discussing the possibility of a domestic attack if they were unable to do so. In addition, 2015 has seen 13 U.S. residents (including the Edmonds cousins) charged with material support for ISIS.
33 U.S. residents have been publicly linked to ISIS since 2014.
Other Illinois residents accused of attempting to aid foreign terrorist organizations or carry out terror attacks in the U.S. include Jamishid Muhtorov, arrested in 2012 for providing material support to the Chechen terror group Islamic Jihad Union; Abdel Daoud, arrested in 2012 for planning a domestic attack; Abdellah Tounisi, arrested in 2013 for attempting to join Jabhat al Nusra; Mohammed Hamza Khan and his brother and sister, detained in 2014 for attempted to join ISIS (Khan’s brother and sister are minors and have not been charged); and Mediha Medy Salkicevic and Jasminka Ramic, arrested in 2015 for attempting to send money to ISIS.