Army National Guardsman, Spc. Hasan R. Edmonds of Aurora Ill was arrested on March 25 for allegedly planning to travel to Libya in order to fight alongside the Islamic State. He is also alleged to have helped his cousin Jonas Edmonds in a plot to attack a U.S. military base. This is believed to be the first case in which a U.S. citizen has been arrested on charges of trying to join Islamic State terrorists in a country other than Syria. The Justice Department alleges that Hasan Edmonds (22) planned to apply skills gained from military service to Islamic terror. He was arrested a Midway International Airport outside of Chicago while attempting to board an overseas flight.
Cousin Jonas M. Edmonds (29), also of Aurora, has been charged with planning an attack on the northern Illinois military base where Hasan had trained. Jonas has a criminal record and planned to use his cousin’s uniforms, as well as information about base access, in order to target officers for an attack.
So far, the Justice Department has charged or detained about 30 people in the United States since 2013 for trying to support or join the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria. In those cases, most planned to go to Turkey first and cross over to Syria. However, in Specialist Edmonds’ case, he planned to go to Egypt first and cross over to Libya and the coastal city of Derna.
On the Mediterranean shore between Benghazi and the Egyptian border, Derna is a hive of Muslim terror. There several hundred fighters there having sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. U.S. military in Iraq have captured documents in Iraq that showed that more jihadi terrorists had come from Derna than from any other city to join insurgents battling American forces in Iraq.
Edmonds had not been in direct contact with Islamic State militants, but was instead unknowingly communicating with an undercover FBI employee who feigned his connections to the terrorists. After discussions with the FBI employee, Edmonds decided to buy his ticket to Egypt. “The tickets are bought and my trust is in Allah,” Specialist Edmonds said. According to the affidavit presented to the court, he said “I can only move forward now. I am fine being in Egypt, Sham or Libya, to be honest.” Sham is a reference to Syria. “I just want to answer the call.”
Specialist Edmonds, while having received military training, had never served in combat. Nor did he speak Arabic fluently. However, he told the FBI employee that he would take American military manuals with him to train the fighters in Libya. “My original goal was simply to fight,” Edmonds told the F.B.I. employee. “I’m not opposed to training the brother, my only request is I be allowed to fight and earn my stripes in the field before being given such an honor.”
The arrests have piqued concerns that more Americans may wish to join the metastasizing Islamic State as it spreads beyond Syria and Iraq. In Nigeria, for example, the violent Boko Haram terrorist sect recently swore allegiance to IS. It now virtually controls the northeast sector of the oil-rich African nation. In its court document, the FBI wrote “To avoid increased law enforcement scrutiny of the common route to Syria through Turkey, foreign fighters from Western countries have traveled to locations in Egypt and on to Syria to join ISIL.”