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United States of America v. Mufid A. Elfgeeh

Court District Court for the Western District of New York, United States
Case number 14-CR-06147EAW-JWF
Decision title Plea Agreement
Decision date 17 December 2015
Parties
  • United States of America
  • Mufid A. Elfgeeh
Categories Material support to terrorism, Terrorism
Keywords Financial Support, foreign fighters, Islamic State, recruitment, Social Media, Terrorism
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Summary

The District Court for the Western District of New York has accepted a guilty plea by Mr. Mufid Elfgeeh and subsequently sentenced him to 22.5 years’ imprisonment for his role in encouraging support for IS, recruiting individuals to fight in Syria and providing financial assistance to those attempting to fight for the terrorist group. Mr. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty to part of the original charges laid against him on 17 December 2015 following his arrest in May 2014. The court records demonstrate that Mr. Elfgeeh had been trying to recruit FBI informants and that his activities had been monitored for a significant period of time prior to his arrest. 

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Procedural history

Mr. Elfgeeh was arrested on 31 May 2014 (para. 4.II.o of the plea agreement). His charges, including attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State (IS/ISIL), were confirmed by a federal grand jury on 16 September 2014. Mr. Elfgeeh pleaded guilty to part of the charges on 17 December 2015. 

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Related developments

Mr. Elfgeeh was sentenced to 270 months’ (22.5 years) imprisonment on 17 March 2016.

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Legally relevant facts

From early 2013, Mr. Elfgeeh maintained various social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, that “he used as platforms to receive and disseminate information about foreign terrorist groups…; to declare his support for violent jihad, ISIL and other foreign terrorist groups …; to inspire and encourage others to engage in violent jihad and/or pledge allegiance to ISIL …; to declare his support for establishment of the Islamic State; and to seek financial contributions to assist jihadist fighters” (para. II.4.c of the plea agreement).

In December 2013, Mr. Elfgeeh began recruiting two people, both of whom were cooperating with the FBI, to travel to Syria (para. II.4.f). The recruitment effort involved inter alia: offering to arrange an IS contact for them in Syria (para. II.4.g); sending IS propaganda videos to the recruits (paras. II.4.h.i and II.4.h.ii); arranging for IS contacts to communicate with the potential recruits via Facebook (para. II.4.h.iii); providing financial assistance to prepare for the trip (para. II.4.h.iv); and providing advice on how to avoid detection by authorities and on how to join IS when in Syria (paras. II.4.h.v and II.4.h.vi). Furthermore, through Facebook and Whatsapp, Mr. Elfgeeh made contact with a Yemeni national who he asked to coordinate the trip for the recruits and he also stipulated that he would pay for the recruits’ travel (para. II.4.k).

Mr. Elfgeeh further contributed to the financing of the travel of another individual in Yemen who wished to go to Syria to join IS (para. II.4.p). He sought assistance from others to obtain money to send to this person and eventually sent it in February 2014 (para. II.4.q).

In addition, Mr. Elfgeeh sought to obtain a firearm with a silencer (para. II.4.o) and he also tried to facilitate communication between a military battalion in Homs, Syria and IS’ leadership in order to allow the battalion to pledge its allegiance and receive support (II.4.s). 

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Core legal questions

N/A - Plea Agreement

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Specific legal rules and provisions

18 US Code § 2339B

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Court's holding and analysis

The defendant pleaded guilty to Counts 2 and 3 of the Indictment on 17 December 2015. Accordingly, Mr. Elfgeeh admitted that he had attempted “to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation” (para. I.1).

By pleading guilty, Mr. Elfgeeh acknowledged that he had “knowingly attempted to provide material support or resources, that is, personnel, to a foreign terrorist organisation, namely, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant… [and] that the defendant knew the organization was a designated foreign terrorist organization” (para. II.3).  

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Further analysis

N/A

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Instruments cited

United States Code

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Related cases

N/A

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Additional materials

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Social media links

  • Counter Extremism Project, ‘Mufid Elfgeeh’, Counter Extremism Project, 2016.