MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin woman is accused of trying to plan terrorist attacks with hacked social media accounts used to show self-proclaimed members of the Islamic State group how to make explosives and poisons.
In a criminal complaint released Wednesday, an FBI agent also details how Waheba Issa Dais allegedly tried to recruit people to carry out attacks for the IS. The FBI said it tracked Dais' activities to her computer in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy.
The 45-year-old mother of two faces charges of trying to help a foreign terrorist organization. Her public defender, John Campion, didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment on the allegations. Dais, who was arrested Wednesday, has a bond hearing Friday. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
In the hacked social media accounts, the FBI said it found conversations with self-proclaimed IS members where Dais discusses possible attacks. In one case, she suggested using the deadly toxin ricin in a government building or a reservoir somewhere in the U.S., according to the FBI's report. In another instance, she suggested street festivals and summer celebrations as possible targets, the FBI said.
Dais was born in Jerusalem and was married to a U.S. citizen when she arrived in Chicago in 1992, according to the FBI. They divorced in 2003 and Dais remained in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. When she applied for her visa, she said she wanted to stay in the U.S. "permanently as a housewife" and said she was fluent in Arabic and English. Her two children are believed to be minors, according to the FBI.
The FBI said it found that Dais maintained multiple accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and email, all containing what prosecutors described as a "virtual library of instructions on how to make bombs, biological weapons, poisons and suicide vests." She also communicated with IS members overseas, the FBI said.
When accounts were hacked, profile pictures and names were changed, and friends were removed and others were added, the FBI said.
Authorities suspect Dais' activities began in January. In one Facebook post in February, she pledged her support for IS, according to the FBI's report.
"#Caution. When I publish any statement I completely believe in it. I was and I continue to be on the doctrine of the Islamic State," the post read.
In one online exchange, Dais told a potential recruit to "act like an ordinary person" and that complete secrecy was needed to carry out attacks, the FBI said.
An FBI confidential informant told investigators that Dais is unemployed and that her "Islamic husband" paid the bills. The informant also reported that Dais was "constantly on social media promoting ISIS" and that her accounts were frequently shut down for that reason.
Elizabeth Makowski, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Milwaukee, declined to say whether authorities believe Dais has any connection to an alleged plot in Germany involving a Tunisian man who prosecutors say created ricin using castor bean seeds. Sief Allah H., whose last name wasn't given in line with German privacy laws, was taken into custody Tuesday during a raid on his apartment in Cologne.