Alexandria: A northern Virginia man appealed guilty for trying to help the ISIS group after a sting operation caught him buying gift cards and recording potential landmarks in the DC province as targets.
Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke, appealed guilty in US District Court in Alexandria to a single count of trying to provide material support to a terrorist group. He faces up to 20 years in jail when he is sentenced in January, although guidelines will likely point to 12 to 15 years.
Qamar, a US citizen born in Brooklyn, came to officials’ attention through his support of the ISIS on Twitter, using dissimilarities of the handle “newerajihadi.”
According to court documents, an FBI informer made contact with Qamar, and the 2 discussed traveling to the Middle East to join the ISIS group. Qamar expressed the informer that he wanted to go but was disallowed from doing so by his parents, who controlled his passport. Qamar also stated joining the ISIS organization would upset his family and might aggravate his father to commit suicide.
The informer then suggested Qamar purchase gift cards that the ISIS group could use to purchase encrypted messaging apps. At first, the informer gave Qamar $40 to buy the cards.
Later, in April of this year, after the informant chided Qamar for spending money on lavish things, Qamar purchased the cards with his own money. Qamar ate the receipt to try to prevent the purchase from being found, according to the statement of facts.
Qamar and the informer sent the gift card codes to an account Qamar believed was controlled by the ISIS Group but was actually controlled by the FBI.
In June 2016, Qamar agreed to help the informer to take photographs and video of landmarks in the D.C. province, allegedly for use in ISIS information to encourage lone-wolf assaults in the nation’s capital. As Qamar drove by the Pentagon, he yelled out a slogan supporting the ISIS group and stated, “Bye-bye, DC” according to the declaration of facts.
Qamar is one of 6 northern Virginia men from 5 separate investigations charged in terror-related cases in 2016. Most of the cases developed out of sting operations.
Paul Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, stated the case “demonstrates the reach extremist organizations have through social media and the threat that they pose to our national security.”
After Monday’s hearing, Qamar’s father, Qamar Abbas, stated his son now recognizes his mistakes, and the long hours his son spent online separated him from the reality of what he was doing.
“He was living in an imaginary world,” “Not in reality,” Abbas stated.