Two Illinois men charged with conspiring to aid Islamic State

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2017 6:00 PM

(Reuters) - Two Illinois men were arrested on Wednesday on charges they conspired to help Islamic State, with one suspect saying he wanted to see the jihadist group's flag over the White House, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Joseph Jones and Edward Schimenti, both 35 and from Zion, Illinois, appeared before a federal magistrate in Chicago and were ordered held pending a detention hearing on Monday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said by telephone.

Federal public defenders assigned to the two men could not be reached for comment.

The pair pledged allegiance to Islamic State and took to social media to back violence in support of the militant group, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Jones and Schimenti discussed backing Islamic State with two undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation employees and an informant and shared photographs of themselves displaying the Islamic State's flag at a state park, the statement said.

Schimenti told the informant he would like to see the flag "on top of the White House," according to a 77-page criminal complaint.

Last month, Schimenti and Jones furnished cellular phones to the informant, believing they would be used to set off explosives in Islamic State attacks, the complaint said.

Thinking the informant would be traveling overseas to join Islamic State, Schimenti worked out with him at a gym to get him in shape for combat, according to the complaint.

Jones and Schimenti drove the informant to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport last week, believing the informant would be flying to Syria to fight with Islamic State.

The two men were with conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Forces backed by the United States, Turkey and Russia are advancing on Islamic State's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. Iraqi government forces have also retaken several Iraqi cities and much of the city of Mosul.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)