Federal authorities say a man from Washington state was detained for allegedly attempting to join ISIS. (Islamic State organization)
Elvin Hunter Bgorn Williams, 20, of Seattle, was arrested at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s departure gate last Friday as he sought to board a trip to Cairo, according to federal authorities. According to a federal complaint unsealed Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, after being arrested, Williams consented to talk with FBI investigators and reportedly indicated that he planned to become an “executioner” or “machine-gunner” for ISIS.
“It makes no difference what you do to me. As a result, I’m rewarded “According to the complaint, Williams informed FBI investigators. “I’d like to pass away. We cherish our deaths more than you cherish yours.”
Williams was charged with attempting to aid a foreign terrorist group with material assistance. If convicted, he may face a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, according to federal authorities. On Tuesday, he appeared in court by video and was ordered jailed until further proceedings. Williams was represented by a federal public defender, who did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.
Williams, who was characterized by federal prosecutors as “self-radicalized,” was first brought to the FBI’s notice when he was 16 years old. Administrators at his high school called the FBI in 2017 to say that Williams was telling others he wanted to join ISIS and thought the fatal terrorist assault on an Ariana Grande performance in England was acceptable because the singer dressed provocatively, according to the complaint.
Williams’ mother told FBI officials at the time that he had been banned from social media for violating the terms of service with pro-ISIS messages, and that she had turned off the internet service at their house to prevent him from accessing extremist websites and social media accounts. According to the lawsuit released Tuesday, she allegedly informed the investigators that her son had shown an interest in moving to Syria or Iraq to fight for the terrorist group.
Concerns about Williams were reported to the FBI by a member of a Seattle-area mosque in November. According to federal investigators, the mosque looked after Williams for more than a year “as an act of charity” in an attempt to de-radicalize him, providing him with a place to live, food, and college tuition for a semester. According to the lawsuit, the mosque also gave Williams a telephone and a laptop to help him find work, but the members made it clear that if he wanted their support, he had to leave ISIS.
After a member of the mosque noticed Williams using the phone to watch ISIS propaganda videos and engage in online discussions with other radicalized persons, he was asked to return it. According to the complaint, members of the mosque examined the phone and were startled to discover multiple ISIS-related videos depicting images of extreme brutality, including beheadings, as well as for instructions on how to make a bomb.
Williams was the subject of an FBI investigation, which included the employment of multiple confidential informants, some of whom pretended to be ISIS recruiters, to keep track of his activities. Williams allegedly signed an oath to ISIS in November 2020 and “became engrossed with operations to join the cause overseas,” according to federal investigators.
Williams emphasized his readiness to become a martyr, how he would “love” to behead someone, and his fear of being stopped at the airport in communications referenced in the lawsuit. According to the complaint, he allegedly indicated that if he was unable to travel abroad to fight for ISIS, he would carry out an assault on American soil, and he described a failed effort to get a buddy to help him carry out an assault on the forthcoming Seattle gay pride parade.
Williams filed for a U.S. passport earlier this year and worked in the Seattle region to save money for his trip fees. According to the allegation, he acquired his passport on May 6.
In a statement released Tuesday, Tessa Gorman, acting US Attorney for the Western District of Washington, stated, “This defendant showed tenacious in his efforts to join ISIS — speaking with delight about acts of awful murder in the Middle East and here at home.” “I want to applaud those residents who informed law enforcement about the defendant’s radicalization, particularly his family and religious community. Their willingness to speak up and collaborate with law enforcement was critical to public safety.”