American Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Helping Student Join ISIS

December 19, 2018 Updated: December 19, 2018
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An American man was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Dec. 18, for helping another man join the Islamist ISIS terrorist group.

Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal, 46, was indicted in August 2015 for providing material support to the terror group, which has been behind a number of bombings, mass shootings, and other terror attacks.

Prosecutors also said that he helped a New York college student travel to Syria to get military training from ISIS.

“These relationships were allegedly made and solidified through the internet while Gammal was in Arizona. This is another example of how social media is utilized for nefarious and criminal purposes around the world,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office at the time.

El Gammal was convicted by a jury in January 2017 and sentenced to prison on Dec. 18 by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

After his conviction, then-U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Baraha said in a statement that El Gammal was “an ambassador for ISIS right here in America.”

“Once again, we have shown that terrorists and terrorist enablers can be brought to justice fairly, openly, and swiftly in the crown jewel of our justice system—civilian courts,” Bahara added.

Communications

Officials said that El Gammal was an outspoken online supporter of ISIS and the terror group’s government in Syria, announcing at one point that he “support[s] jihad everywhere” and saying that “[b]eheadings have a magical effect.”

If ISIS made it into Egypt, he said in one post, he’d like to join them “so I can torture the Egyptians, and whip them.”

In August 2014, a New York City college student, Samy El-Goarany, began to express support for the Islamist group. He soon began to communicate with El Gammal through an encrypted platform. El Gammal sent El-Goarany a documentary about life in ISIS that included details about the type of training the terrorists provide.

In the midst of communicating with the student, El Gammal traveled to New York City and met with him. During the visit, he gave the student the contact for a person in Turkey, who ultimately helped the student travel from Turkey to ISIS in Syria.

El-Goarany left New York for Turkey in January 2015 and was soon shuttled across the border.

After starting training with ISIS, El-Goarany wrote to El Gammal that “everything [was] going according to plan.” A few months later he said, “May God reward you with goodness.”

El Gammal later wrote to the student to inquire about traveling to Syria himself. El-Goarany said it was too risky.

El-Goarany’s brother received a message from an ISIS member on Nov. 23, 2015, stating that the student had been killed in battle.

Plea for Mercy

El Gammal’s lawyers argued during the trial that El-Goarany would have reached Syria even without their client’s aid.

Speaking before the judge before the sentencing, El Gammal claimed that he is a “proud American.”

“I love this country,” he said repeatedly, reported the Associated Press. “I ask for forgiveness and mercy.”

Judge Ramos said that El Gammal was not the “typical terrorism suspect,” or “the type of true believer,” and thinks that the man won’t commit another crime after being released.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber