A Chicago-based man is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Ashraf Al Safoo "aided ISIS in using social media to spread propaganda supporting violent jihad, to recruit operatives, and to encourage others to carry out terrorist attacks," a criminal complaint unsealed Friday said.
Al Safoo, 34, was born in Mosul, Iraq and moved to the United States in 2008. He is a naturalized citizen. He is alleged to be part of the Khattab Media Foundation, an internet-based organization that has sworn allegiance to ISIS and helps create and disseminate online propaganda for the jihadist group.
According to the complaint, Khattab members hack social media accounts, using them to disseminate ISIS propaganda. Khattab allegedly translated the propaganda into English, French, Bengali, and Italian.
An October 2017 Khattab video, "The Brothers of Marawi," glorified dying while fighting for ISIS. A song playing in the background praised the fighters of Marawi saying, "diamonds and pearls and palaces awaiting the man of Tawheed [monotheism or 'Oneness of God' in Islam]."
Khattab promoted Al Safoo to head writer in March. In that role, he encouraged "Khattab operatives to support ISIS, through propaganda and other efforts, as extensively as possible," the complaint said.
In a video posted in May, Al Safoo directed other ISIS propagandists to "work hard brothers. Cut the issue to short clips. Take the pictures out of it and publish the efforts of your brothers in the pages of the apostates. Participate in the war. Spread fear."
Al Safoo is in federal custody and is scheduled to have a detention hearing Oct. 25. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.