- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A North Carolina man, who had contacted the terrorists responsible for the May 2015 attack on a Muhammad art exhibition in Garland Texas, was convicted for attempting and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.

Erick Jamal Hendricks, 37, of Charlotte, was convicted Tuesday by an Akron, Ohio, jury, the Department of Justice said. He tried to recruit and train people to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States on behalf of the terrorist organization.

“Hendricks used social media to recruit others to plan and carry out attacks on our homeland in the name of ISIS, with the goal of creating a sleeper cell on our soil,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, Hendricks’ plan was thwarted, and with today’s verdict he is being held accountable for his terrorist activities.”

In the spring of 2015, Hendricks contacted Amir Al-Ghazi, a U.S.-based ISIS supporter, who was arrested near Cleveland after attempting to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer, according to court documents. The contact, which occurred over social media, included Hendricks telling Al-Ghazi that there were “brothers” located in Texas and Mexico and that he wanted “to get brothers to train together.”

Al-Ghazi said Hendricks tested his religious knowledge and commitment during the conversations, inquiring about his willingness to commit “jihad” and die as a “martyr.” He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and being a felon in possession of firearms. Al-Ghazi is currently awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors allege that Hendricks later used social media to contact an ISIS supporter who was part of the attack at the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” on May Garland, Texas. That individual, Elton Simpson, was killed along with his co-conspirator Nadir Hamid Soofi, in a shootout with Garland police during the attack. Hendricks communicated with Simpson before the event, asking him questions about how many people and police would be at the contest.

Simpson and Soofi shot a school security guard in the ankle, but no fatalities occurred during the attack.

Hendricks’ sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s offices in Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Baltimore; and Charlotte, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Maryland, District of South Carolina and the Western District of North Carolina.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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