An Ohio man who authorities say had pledged allegiance to ISIS via Facebook and encouraged others to commit acts of terrorism in the United States, was arrested on terrorism-related charges Friday near Cleveland.
Amir Said Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazi was arrested without incident in North Olmsted, Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland division and U.S. Attorney Stephen Dettelbach said in a joint press release.
Al-Ghazi, who legally changed his name from Robert C. McCollum in 2015, swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi numerous times on Facebook, the release states.
The 38-year-old suspect “made multiple online statements through his social media profiles for the purpose of inciting others to commit violent jihad in the United States” and stated his desire to commit terrorist acts himself, according to the release.
“Today's charges are a stark reminder that the radical and dangerous philosophies espoused by groups such as ISIL can be spread in our community through computers and social media,” Dettelbach said.
The release said the terror suspect drew the attention of federal authorities as early as 2012, when the FBI was alerted to “violent extremist content” on a Facebook page owned by al-Ghazi, which in turn sparked further investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The investigation found that al-Ghazi owned numerous social media profiles.
“[The] Islamic State is our caliphate like it or not,” al-Ghazi wrote in one social media post.
“What you all don't get is that we Sunni Muslims love Allah and his prophet more than we love our mothers. We are all Islamic state citizens. This isn't some gang in the desert you're fighting. This is ww3 (sic) the beginning has just begun,” another post read.
The federal release also said al-Ghazi had taken “substantial steps” toward creating ISIS propaganda videos, which he planned to post on the internet.
He also was in contact with two people he believed to be associated with the ISIS terror group, according to the release.
“This arrest demonstrates law enforcement's number one priority - to keep our communities and our nation safe,” Anthony said.
Al-Ghazi was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and distribution of a controlled substance.