The feds on Thursday arrested a man in North Carolina who allegedly aspired to create an Islamic State sleeper cell in the U.S. and who authorities said was in close contact with a pair of Texas extremists who plotted an attack on the “Draw the Prophet Muhammad” cartoon contest in 2015.
Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. He is the 100th person charged in an ISIS-related case under federal law since 2014.
The allegations against Hendricks stem from a confidential informant who was arrested in the spring of 2015 when he tried to buy an assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover officer, investigators said.
That informant, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, claimed Hendricks tried to recruit him for an ISIS cell in 2015. Hendricks allegedly also claimed to have “brothers” in Texas and Mexico.
Officials said they believed those “brothers” were Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi, two ISIS-inspired extremists who tried launching an attack on the Garland, Texas cartoon contest in April 2015. A police officer shot and killed the men before they could enter the venue.
Hendricks allegedly connected an undercover FBI agent with Simpson prior to the attack and told the agent to go to the contest and survey security.
“If you see that pig [contest organizer Pamela Geller], make your ‘voice’ heard against her,” Hendricks allegedly told the undercover agent.
Shortly after Hendricks requested information on the size of the gathering, the police presence and whether “snipers” were stationed, Simpson and Soofi drove up to start their terror attempt before the officer shot them.
Fox News’ Matt Dean and Courtney Stein Vargas contributed to this report.