MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin woman accused of trying to plan terrorist attacks on social media leads a lonely life and sought companionship online, but she never posed a real threat, her attorney told a judge Friday.
But federal magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph said the allegations against 45-year-old Waheba Issa Dais were concerning enough that she must be held without bond pending her trial.
Prosecutors allege the mother of seven tried to recruit people to carry out attacks for the Islamic State, and provided them with information on how to make explosives and poisons.
The FBI said its investigation found that Dais used hacked social media accounts to discuss possible attacks with self-proclaimed members of IS, but that authorities have not connected her to any attack plots.
Dais was arrested Wednesday in suburban Milwaukee. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Her public defender, John Campion, told the judge that Dais' common-law husband abandoned her late last year. Authorities suspect Dais' activities began in January.
"Essentially she lives this very circumscribed social existence," Campion said.
He said she was "seeking social contacts, seeking perhaps a romantic relationship" with her online activity. He noted that she does not have a criminal record.
But prosecutor Gregory Haanstad said Dais was "relentless and driven" in her desire to carry out an attack.
The FBI said Dais suggested using the deadly toxin ricin in a government building or a reservoir somewhere in the U.S. during one of her conversations with an informant. In another instance, she suggested street festivals and summer celebrations as possible targets, the FBI said.
"Ms. Dais has shown not just a disregard for human life but an affirmative and apparently consuming desire to assist in mass killings," Haanstad said.
Dais appeared in court handcuffed and with her legs in shackles. She smiled at family members as she walked into court and later as she was led out. Five of her seven children lived with her, Haanstad said, including three minors.
Haanstad told Judge Joseph Dais has a history of depression and bipolar disorder but has refused to take her medication.