On March 24th this year, federal prosecutors alleged that cousins Jonas and Hasan Edmonds traveled to the Joliet Armory in Illinois to scout out the location for future terrorist attack. Although the details for the negotiations are still being worked out, prosecutors have told a federal judge that they are expecting a guilty plea.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, was planning on traveling to Libya to fight with the Islamic State, when he was intercepted by federal agents before he was able to board his flight out of Chicago. His cousin, Jonas Marcel Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home after dropping off Hasan at the airport. The FBI alleges Jonas was planning an attack on a U.S. military facility in northern Illinois.
A Justice Department press release indicates the investigation involved the Joint Terrorism Task Force, together with support from the police department and 20 other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Hasan Edmonds was a specialist in the National Guard, a member of Golf Company 634th Brigade Support Battalion based in Joliet, Illinois. The FBI took a closer look at Hasan after allegedly learning he intended to use his military training to fight for the Islamic State. According to the criminal complaint, an undercover FBI agent sent Hasan Edwards a message on Facebook, to which he responded the was trying to get his affairs in order and get his funds up for “the plunge.” The complaint indicates Hasan Edwards wanted to go to the Islamic State to “complete our task or be granted shahada,” or martyrdom.
Jonas Edmonds also allegedly communicated with an undercover FBI agent, indicating he wanted to move to Mosul, Iraq with his wife and 5 children. However, if he wasn't able to get a passport because of his prior armed robbery conviction, he would be willing to stay in the U.S. to stage an attack. He speculated that an attack on a military facility, using the cover of his cousin's National Guard uniform, could kill between 100 to 150 people.
To family members, the allegations that the two were terrorists came as a shock. Manchinique Bates, Hasan Edwards' sister, said they aren't terrorists. “We didn't know anything about my brother trying to travel across seas nor did we know about the supposed attacks my cousin was supposedly doing. They don't go out seeking trouble.”
Tiffany Edwards, an aunt to both young men, said her nephews were good people, and not the kind of people who would commit terrorist acts. “There was nothing like this that could ever possibly come about or be true,” said Edwards. “Like I said, it's a nightmare.”
Both men have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization, under 18 U.S. Code § 2339B, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. The initially entered a plea of not guilty, but the U.S. District Judge has said he will set a date for a change-of-plea hearing. Their next hearing has been scheduled for October 13th.