LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA — A former member of the Army National Guard, Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, 27, of Sterling, Va. pleaded guilty on Oct. 27 to charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement.
According to the DOJ, in March 2016, a now-deceased member of ISIL brokered an introduction between Jalloh and an individual in the U.S. who was actually an FBI confidential human source (CHS). The ISIL member was actively plotting an attack in the U.S. and believed the attack would be carried out with the assistance of Jalloh and the CHS.
Jalloh met with the CHS on two occasions and told the CHS he was a former member of the Virginia Army National Guard, but that he decided not to re-enlist after listening to online lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Jalloh had recently taken a six-month trip to Africa where he had met with ISIL members in Nigeria and first began communicating online with the ISIL member who later brokered his introduction to the CHS. During their meeting, Jalloh also told the CHS he thought about conducting an attack all the time, and that he was close to doing so at one point. Jalloh claimed to know how to shoot guns and praised the gunman who killed five U.S. military members in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July 2015. Jalloh also stated he had been thinking about conducting an attack similar to the attack at Ft. Hood, Texas, in November 2009, which killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.
“Mohamed Bailor Jalloh purchased a weapon following multiple attempts to procure assault rifles and handguns, believing they would be used in an ISIL-directed attack on U.S. soil,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Jalloh also provided money on multiple occasions to support ISIL after attempting to join the terrorist group. The FBI and our partners within the Joint Terrorism Task Force are dedicated to preventing any and all acts of terrorism and relentlessly pursuing and disrupting anyone who poses a risk of harm directly or by providing material support to a terrorist group.”
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, during the May 2016 meeting, Jalloh asked the CHS about the timeline for an operation and commented that it was better to plan an attack operation for the month of Ramadan, and stated that such operations are, “100 percent the right thing.” Jalloh also asked if the CHS could assist him in providing a donation to ISIL. Ultimately, Jalloh provided a prepaid cash transfer of $500 to a contact of the CHS that Jalloh believed was a member of ISIL, but who was in fact an undercover FBI employee.
“Jalloh attempted to provide material support to ISIL by transferring funds intended for use by ISIL, taking steps to join and assist others in joining ISIL, and attempting to obtain a weapon that he believed would be used in an attack on U.S. soil in the name of ISIL,” said Mary B. McCord, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to hold accountable those who attempt to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations.”
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in June 2016, Jalloh traveled to North Carolina and made multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain firearms. On July 2, Jalloh went to a gun dealership in Northern Virginia, where he test-fired and purchased an assault rifle. The rifle was however rendered inoperable before he left the dealership with the weapon. Jalloh was arrested the following day and the FBI seized the rifle.
Jalloh faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 10, 2017, according to the DOJ announcement.