As if there weren’t enough problems coming out of Chicago, two men who resided in the city’s suburbs were arrested over the weekend after trying to aid ISIS. The two men, Joseph Jones and Edward Schimenti, worked out with an alleged jihadist at a gym in Zion (who really was an FBI informant), aiming to get him into shape for combat. The two men also bought the faux jihadist two cell phones that would be used to detonate combs, and dropped him off at the O’Hare International Airport last Friday believing he was going to the Middle East to kill “infidels.”
Of course, as the Chicago Tribune reported, what Jones and Schimenti didn’t know was that the purported Islamic State fighter was actually an informant and that the FBI had been investigating them for nearly two years after red-flagging social media posts supporting terrorist activities, according to prosecutors.
Among their social media posts included the two posing behind ISIS flags in numerous photos, and expressing a desire to see the flag fly on top of the White House.
Agents arrested Jones and Schimenti, both 35, at their homes at 5 a.m. Wednesday on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiring to provide material support and resources to Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Hours later, they appeared somber and shackled at the ankles in Chicago’s federal court as prosecutors announced that the charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
According to the 77-page complaint unsealed Wednesday, Jones, also known as Yusuf Abdulhaqq, and Schimenti, who also went by the name Abdul Wali, pledged their allegiance to Islamic State and advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group.
In meetings with informants and undercover agents in Chicago and across the suburbs, the two were captured speaking in glowing terms about Islamic State-inspired events, including the 2015 attacks in Paris, where gunmen killed 128, as well as an incident last year when a terrorist drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12, according to the complaint.
Schimenti also had a penchant for Islamic State propaganda — from beheading videos to recordings of mass executions, according to the charges.
In addition to criminal charges they now face, one of them was apparently too kooky even for his local Black Lives Matter chapter. The chairman of the Lake County Black Lives Matter Movement recognized Schimenti from a belligerent rant he went on during a 2015 rally for Justus Howell, who was shot by Zion police. “I remember him — we had to take the mike away from him because he was too radical,” Clyde McLemore said Wednesday. “In his speech he said ‘kill the police’ and he talked about blowing up the police station.” McLemore said the group banned Schimenti from any future events.
I’m no lawyer, but noting that “the defendents were too crazy for even BLM” doesn’t do anything but help the FBI’s case.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]