Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University Seamus Hughes says that a foiled terror plot was the first time the Islamic State sent thousands of dollars to an individual in the United States to fund an attack, and it could have been a blueprint for future attacks.
Hughes examines the case of Baltimore man Mohamed Elshinawy, who pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in 2017, including plotting to carry out a “mass casualty attack” in the U.S. under ISIS members’ instructions. Hughes found the case unusual because of the way the potential attacks were funded: Elshinawy’s is the only known case in which the Islamic State sent thousands of dollars to an individual in the United States to fund an attack, and one prosecutor described him as being “on salary with the Islamic State.”
Hughes says that as the terror group’s territorial reach declines, external financing schemes could become increasingly relevant.
“With foreign fighters returning to their home countries, the Islamic State virtual entrepreneur who has until now mobilized with moral suasion may shift to providing financial support to the soldier lying dormant in the west,” he said. “The model that failed in Elshinawy’s case may now thrive. Money sent from countries other than Syria may not trigger the same red flags for financial institutions that such transactions previously did when the money flowed from the Middle East.”
Read the full blog post here