UPDATE: Zion Men With Alleged Ties to Isis Apprehended

Photos of alleged suspects Joseph Jones and Edward Schimenti charged with providing support to ISIS. On the right one is seen standing in front of the entrance to the Illinois Beach State Park while displaying the Islamic State flag. – U.S. Justice Department photo

by Long Hwa-shu 

Two Zion men were arrested early Wednesday by FBI agents in their homes on federal complaint charging them conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State, known as ISIS.

The two men have been identified as Joseph D. Jones, also known as Yusuf Abdulhaqq; and Edward Schimenti, also known as Abdul Wali. Both are 35 and they are friends.

They were later brought to federal court in Chicago in shackles before U. S. Magistrate Judge for a hearing. David Weisman. If convicted, they could face prison terms up to 20 years.

Federal prosecutors said the pair who had been under investigation by FBI agents saw a man who they had trained and furnished with several cell phones off at O’Hare International Airport on Friday, April 7. The man they bade off was purportedly traveling to Syria to kill the infidels for the Islamic state. ”Drench that land with they, they blood,” Schimenti was reportedly heard saying to the purported  “fighter.” The cell phones were to be used by the man to detonate explosives.

According to U.S. prosecutors, the two Zion men pledged their allegiance to ISIS and advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group. In the fall of 2015, the two men befriended three individuals whom the pair believed were fellow ISIS devotees, according to federal officials.

At one meeting, the pair shared photographs of themselves holding the Islamic State flag brazenly at the entrance of the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. In a recorded conversation Schimenti remarked that he would like to see the ISIS flag “on top of the White House.”

Actually, two of them were undercover FBI agents and the third, the government informant, was “cooperating with law enforcement and was not an ISIS supporter,“ officials said.

Over the next several months since the initial meeting, Jones and Schimenti met the undercover agents and the purported “fighter” on several occasions during which the two discussed their support and commitment to ISIS terrorist activities, according to the federal complaint. These meetings took place in Waukegan, Zion, Bridgeview, North Chicago, Highland Park and Chicago.

At one meeting, the pair shared photographs of themselves holding the Islamic State flag brazenly at the entrance of the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. In a recorded conversation Schimenti remarked that he would like to see the ISIS flag “on top of the White House.” On another occasion Schimenti also talked about plans to attack Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, according to the government complaint.

Earlier this year, Schmenti undertook physical training with the purported “fighter” at a gym in Zion apparently trying to get him in good shape that would, in the words of Schmenti “make you good, you know, in the battlefield,” according to the federal complaint.

Last month, the pair gave the “fighter” several cellular phones for use to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks, the complaint states.  On April 7, the two men drove the “fighter” to O’Hare with the understanding that he would be traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS.

Little did they know they were going to be caught red-handed.

Life-long Zion resident Shantal Taylor, a former city alderman and mayoral candidate, said she was shocked at the news. “It just goes to show we as citizens of America must really begin to look out for one another in caring ways like never before,” said Taylor, a 21-year employee of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. “This is very unsettling. With the nuclear plant still being guarded, this just isn’t good. We need each other as neighbors to really report suspicious activity and join positive connections keeping one another informed.”

The case was investigated by the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of FBI agents and representatives from federal , state and local law enforcement agencies. The Zion Police Department, federal  prosecutors said, provided “valuable assistance.”

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