Amer Sinan Alhaggagi was sentenced February 27 to 188 months for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and identity theft charges.
Alhaggagi, 23, of Oakland, California, pleaded guilty to the charges on July 18, 2018. In pleading guilty, Alhaggagi admitted he knowingly attempted to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Federal prosecutors filed sentencing memoranda disclosing additional details of Alhaggagi’s conduct prior to and after his arrest. For example, beginning in July of 2016, Alhaggagi boasted online about a series of terrorist attacks he wanted to commit on behalf ISIS. His aim was to “redefine terror,” and he promised that if he succeeded, the “whole Bay Area [was] gonna be in flames.” Among his more vicious attacks, he planned to explode a car bomb outside a gay nightclub in San Francisco, and plant backpack bombs on routes known to be used by emergency vehicles, in an effort to kill first responders seeking to aid casualties. In addition, even after his arrest, Alhaggagi hatched a new plot for a bomb attack and shared the plan with prison inmates. At one point, Alhaggagi was driving through Berkeley towards the Oakland Hills with an undercover agent when he pointed out several bars and clubs “where all the students are.” The defendant commented, “it’s a nice area to attack… it’s like, everybody’s in their own world, just doing their thing.” He told the undercover agent that there were even more crowded areas in San Francisco that could make for good targets and said, “it’s not hard to target places, because there’s people everywhere. But I was trying to target, you know, like clubs, you know, like dance clubs, bars… stuff like that . . ..”
In pleading guilty, Alhaggagi admitted to the following:
Alhaggagi admitted that in October and November of 2016, he created Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts along with the Gmail accounts that were necessary to authenticate them for individuals he believed were ISIS supporters.
Alhaggagi admitted that in the Fall of 2016 he communicated with two individuals who asked him to set up social media accounts. Alhaggagi communicated with the individuals from his computer while he was in Oakland, and admitted opening several Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail accounts at their request. Alhaggagi also admitted knowing that both of the individuals were ISIS sympathizers and that by opening the social media accounts he was providing a service to ISIS. The investigation demonstrated at least one of the individuals Alhaggagi opened accounts for was an actual member of ISIS.
Alhaggagi admitted that on November 29, 2016, the day of his arrest, he possessed a device used to make counterfeit credit cards and that between July and August 2016, he used a credit card with someone else’s name to buy more than $1,000 worth of clothes for himself online.
A federal grand jury indicted Alhaggagi on July 21, 2017, with one count of knowingly attempting to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS; one count of possessing an identity theft device; one count of unauthorized identity theft; and one count of aggravated identity theft. Alhaggagi pleaded guilty to all the charges without a written agreement.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer ordered the defendant to serve 10 years supervised release.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the United States Department of Justice National Security Division, the Berkeley Police Department, and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force including, the Oakland Police Department.