A Somerset County, New Jersey, man admitted today that he concealed his attempts to provide material support to Hamas, Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn announced.
Jonathan Xie, 21, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with one count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Xie admitted that 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, an organization that is commonly referred to as Hamas. Xie admitted that he knew Hamas was a designated foreign terrorist organization and has engaged in terrorist activities. 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.
In December 2018, Xie sent $100 via Moneygram to an individual in Gaza who Xie believed to be a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades – a faction of Hamas that has conducted attacks, to include suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. At approximately the same time that Xie sent the money, he posted on his Instagram account “Just donated $100 to Hamas. Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn.”
In April 2019, Xie appeared in an Instagram Live video wearing a black ski mask and stated that he was against Zionism and the neo-liberal establishment. When asked by another participant in the video if he would go to Gaza and join Hamas, Xie stated “yes, If I could find a way.” Later in the video, Xie displayed a Hamas flag and retrieved a handgun. He then stated “I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody.” In subsequent Instagram posts, Xie stated, “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.”
In April 2019, Xie sent a link to a website for the Al-Qassam Brigades to an FBI employee who was acting online in an undercover capacity. Xie described the website as a “Hamas” website and stated he had previously sent a donation to the group. Xie then sent screenshots of the website to the undercover employee and demonstrated how to use a new feature on the website that allows donations to be sent via Bitcoin. On April 18, 2019, when the undercover employee asked whether Bitcoin was anonymous, Xie responded: “yah… i think thats why hamas is using it now because money transfer is not that anonymous.”
The investigation revealed additional social media accounts for Xie, including a YouTube account which contained, among other things, a playlist containing videos, many of which advocated or propagandized Soldiers for Allah, the war in Syria, Hezbollah (a foreign terrorist organization), and the Houthi movement in Yemen, as well as support for Bashar al Assad, Saddam Hussein, and North Korea.
The count of concealing attempted material support carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing for Xie is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2021.
Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Crouch, Jr.; and the U.S. Department of Defense, Army Counterintelligence, 902d Military Intelligence Group, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanks the U.S. Secret Service for its assistance with the case.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Joyce M. Malliet of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit and Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division.