Man charged with marking targets in DC for Islamic State

AP News
|
Posted: Jul 08, 2016 2:35 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been charged with attempting to assist the Islamic State by photographing targets in the Washington, D.C., area for what he thought would be a video encouraging lone-wolf terrorist attacks in the nation's capital.

Haris Qamar, 25, of Burke was arrested Friday morning, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. He is the second person this week from the northern Virginia suburbs to be charged at the federal courthouse in Alexandria with attempting to support the Islamic State.

Court records do not yet list an attorney for Qamar, who was expected to make an initial appearance in front of a federal magistrate Friday afternoon.

Qamar came to authorities' attention through Twitter posts about supporting terrorist attacks that appeared under variations of the handle "newerajihadi," the court documents show.

According to an affidavit, the FBI set up a sting operation in which Qamar worked with an informant last month to film landmarks, including the Pentagon, that could be targeted for attacks. The informant recorded Qamar saying "bye-bye DC" as he filmed the Pentagon. He went on to say that he hates the United States and gets a "burning sensation in my body because this place is so disgusting."

Qamar told the informant that filming and photographing targets that the Islamic State could use in a video to urge lone-wolf attacks made him a true supporter of the group and more than just a "fanboy," according to the affidavit.

Qamar is a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Qamar tried to join the Islamic State in 2014 but was thwarted because his father had possession of Qamar's passport and threatened to turn his son in to authorities if he persisted. Travel records show that Qamar had gone as far as buying a ticket to Istanbul in that time frame, according to the affidavit.

Qamar's arrest comes three days after prosecutors announced charges against another northern Virginia man — Mohamed Jalloh, 26, of Sterling — alleging that he attempted to support the Islamic State. Authorities say Jalloh, a former Army National Guard soldier, contemplated a Fort Hood-style attack against U.S. service members after meeting an Islamic State member in Africa.

Earlier this year, an Alexandria man, Mohamad Khweis, was charged with supporting the Islamic State after traveling to Iraq and Syria to join the group, then surrendering himself to Kurdish forces after a couple of months , saying he became disenchanted with the IS.

Qamar, according to the affidavit, told the informant that Khweis was an idiot for leaving the Islamic State, and he wished he could have traded places with him.