A Somerset County man who told Instagram followers he was wanted to shoot or run down pro-Israel demonstrators and bomb Trump Tower admitted Tuesday that he secretly supported Hamas.
Jonathan Xie, 21, of Basking Ridge admitted during a video conference with a federal judge in Trenton that he wired $100 via Moneygram to a purported member of the Al-Qassam Brigades, a faction of Hamas that has conducted suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians inside Israel, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
“Just donated $100 to Hamas,” Xie posted to his Instagram account. “Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn.”
Xie later posted an Instagram Live video wearing a black ski mask while displaying a Hamas flag and a handgun.
“I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody,” he wrote.
In subsequent Instagram posts, Xie wrote: “I want to shoot the pro-israel demonstrators . . . you can get a gun and shoot your way through or use a vehicle and ram people . . . all you need is a gun or vehicle to go on a rampage . . . I do not care if security forces come after me, they will have to put a bullet in my head to stop me.”
He also superimposed “I want to bomb Trump Tower” over an image of the president’s signature property and conducted an Instagram poll on whether he should carry out the attack, according to the FBI, which recorded video of him outside the building.
Xie also sent a link to a website for the Al-Qassam Brigades to what turned out to be an undercover FBI employee, Carpenito said.
Xie, who authorities described as a “homegrown violent extremist,” said he’d donated to the group and sent the undercover employee screenshots demonstrating how to send money to Hamas via Bitcoin, the U.S. attorney said.
“That[‘]s why [H]amas is using it now[,] because money transfer is not that anonymous,” Carpenito said he later wrote.
Xie lied when about his association with terror groups when he tried to join the U.S. Army “to learn to kill," Carpenito added.
Xie admitted Tuesday that he “he knowingly concealed and disguised the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the attempt to provide material support and resources to Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya and the Islamic Resistance Movement,” otherwise known as Hamas, the U.S. attorney said.
Xie “admitted that he knew Hamas was a designated foreign terrorist organization and has engaged in terrorist activities,” Carpenito said. “He said he attempted to conceal the attempted support believing it would be used to commit or assist in the commission of a violent act.”
Such homegrown extremists “are a serious threat to national security,” Carpenito previously said. “The actions that he took and planned to take made that threat both clear and present.
“[W]e commend our law enforcement partners for working closely with us to stop him before he could carry out his plans to commit violence on American soil.”
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp set a Jan. 27 sentencing date on Xie’s single guilty plea to concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Carpenito and Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division credited:
- special agents of the FBI;
- officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force;
- the U.S. Department of Defense Army Counterintelligence’s 902d Military Intelligence Group.
They also thanked the U.S. Secret Service for its assistance.The plea was secured by Senior Trial Counsel Joyce M. Malliet of Carpenito’s National Security Unit and Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division.
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