An October trial date has been set for a Pensacola man charged with lying to federal agents who were investigating his alleged support of the Islamic State.
Robert Blake Jackson, 31, was arraigned Wednesday morning on one count of making materially false statements in a federal investigation. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and he has been scheduled to stand trial Oct. 3.
A criminal complaint affidavit alleges that on several occasions in 2014 and 2015, Jackson made Facebook postings expressing support for extremist terrorist groups and stating a desire to assist the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL). The affidavit also alleges Jackson was fired from a Pensacola telemarketing business for viewing ISIL and other terrorist-related websites and videos on his work computer.
Jackson denied the activities in a June 2015 interview with FBI agents, but investigators were allegedly able to tie the pro-ISIS posts to Jackson’s home computer. Jackson was arrested in July 2016.
In an argument for Jackson’s release, his attorney pointed out that Jackson had little prior criminal history. Jackson’s counsel also noted he had no actual affiliation with ISIL, and his statements represented “some strange fantasy.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles J. Kahn Jr., ultimately determined Jackson was a danger to the community and ordered he remain in custody pending his trial — noting that “lone wolf” terrorist attacks had become the norm, and that Jackson allegedly expressed a desire to see Jews and Americans burn in “hellfire.”
In his detention order, Kahn wrote, “During the course of the June 2015 FBI interview, the defendant told serial falsehoods having been advised of the consequences. Although he is charged with (false statement), I cannot overlook the substance and quantity of the online statements made by the defendant. A number of these statements condone, at best, and encourage, at worst, violence toward those he perceives as opponents of ISIS. I also cannot overlook the defendant’s expressions that he would like to be of assistance, or even be part of, known terror organizations.”
Jackson faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted of making false statements. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case, and Thomas Keith will provide Jackson’s defense.
According to Jackson’s warrant affidavit, the FBI’s San Diego Division began reviewing the Facebook profile of “Abdur Rashid Bin Jackson” in early October 2014 after becoming aware of pro-ISIL posts.
On Sept. 19, 2014, the user posted a picture of the ISIL flag and an ISIL recruitment video. Another Facebook user posted the question “Are you isis?” to which Abdur Rashid Bin Jackson replied, “… l am not ISIS, though I wish I could help.”
Other information on the Facebook page indicated Jackson lived in Pensacola, and on Jan. 29, 2015, a local telemarketing business reported they had fired Jackson for viewing terrorism-related websites and videos on his work computer, the affidavit said.