Arizonan Accused of Helping Student Join ISIL

     (CN) – An Arizona man was indicted for his alleged role in smuggling a 24-year-old college student into Syria to train with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Justice Department said.
     FBI agents arrested U.S. citizen Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal aka Jammie Gammal, 42, in Avondale, Ariz. on Monday. An indictment filed Thursday accuses Gammal of providing material support to ISIL, which is sometimes also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
     According to an FBI complaint unsealed Wednesday, Gammal played middleman to a student identified only as “Samy” and an ISIL organizer in Syria, both of whom remain anonymous.
     The men communicated extensively through coded social media messages, FBI agents say. Samy, a U.S. citizen who was becoming more radicalized in his religious views, contacted Gammal last August after learning of his pro-ISIL comments on a photo of an insurgent “pulling a dead man from his hair and smiling,” the complaint states.
     Gammal flew to New York in early October and met with Samy in several locations throughout Manhattan and Queens to avoid surveillance by law enforcement, the criminal complaint alleges.
     During his trip, Gammal obtained the ISIL contact’s Turkish phone number for his “American friend” via Skype and Samy sent a message asking the organizer to provide him “an internship for the summer,” the government claims.
     Samy continued to rely on Gammal for travel and translation advice after landing in Turkey on Jan. 28, 2015, and told him he had made contact with someone “directly inside the company,” according to court documents
     The student did not tell his family he was leaving the country and remained out of contact until Feb.16, when he reportedly sent his brother a social media message saying, “I’ve got a lot of explaining to do… I had my phone and laptop taken from me by the company for security reasons.”
     “Right now I’m going through the religious training which will end in 9 days,” Samy allegedly told his brother. “I’m sorry I can’t say more.”
     FBI special agent Le Nguyen said in the criminal complaint that ISIL instructional phases begin with religious training during which new recruits’ cell phones and laptops are confiscated.
     Records show Samy continued to correspond with Gammal and his brother from an Internet service provider in an ISIL-controlled location in Syria between February and May.
     In one message, he condones ISIL’s February killing by burning of Jordanian pilot Moaz-al-Kasasbeh, according to the FBI.
     “This investigation demonstrates how easily people can support a terrorist organization without ever meeting, from the anonymity of their own computer and hidden behind obscure social media accounts and the veil of the Internet,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said in a statement.
     Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the activity Gammal is accused of helps support terrorism.
     “Individuals like Gammal who allegedly serve as facilitators for ISIL fuel the hatred and radicalization that keep terrorist organizations like ISIL alive,” Bharara said.
     If convicted on all counts, Gammal could spend 55 years in prison.
     The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Courthouse News’ request to confirm Samy’s whereabouts or criminal status.

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