An East Bay man has been indicted on terrorism-related charges, federal court records show.
NBC Bay Area News obtained a federal indictment showing the defendant, 22-year-old Oakland resident Amer Sinan Alhaggagi, attempted to provide material support to ISIS. He was arrested in November, court records show.
According to the indictment, between July and November of last year, Alhaggagi opened social media accounts to promote the terrorist group. The charge holds a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Alhaggagi spent "significant lengths of time" in Yemen and was involved in planning "certain terrorism-related conduct" before he was arrested, according to court documents from a December detention hearing. According to court documents, federal agents worried Alhaggagi might flee the country, citing statements he allegedly made saying he planned on escaping to Mexico after engaging in a terrorist attack.
Alhaggagi is also being indicted on three other charges including aggravated identity theft, which hold penalties of a combined 27 years in prison.
The investigation was conducted by the East Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force and began last August, according to court records.
Attempts by NBC Bay Area News to reach Alhaggagi through his attorney have gone unanswered.
Alhaggagi’s family issued the following statement to NBC Bay Area News.
“We were shocked to learn of the accusations involving Amer. Amer is not and has never been radicalized in any way. He grew up in this country and loves it here. He is peaceful and kind. He was very young and immature when he got involved in the online conversations that are the basis for these accusations. He did not think those conversations were serious and he never had any intent to harm anyone. We love him and continue to fully support him.”
Court records show some of Alhaggagi's online conversations were likely with undercover federal agents.
He's schedules to appear next in federal court in August.
Alhaggagi's attorney, August Gugelmann, provided the following statement Friday:
"Amer is not anti-American and does not support ISIS or any other terrorist organization. He is completely nonviolent, and he took no actions to harm anyone. The evidence we have suggests these charges are based on internet chat conversations that he had with a number of unknown people. Amer is a very young and naïve man, and it appears he allowed himself to be drawn into conversations that he should have been far more suspicious of."