Two men from suburban Chicago were arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiring with ISIS, according to the Department of Justice, who said the men purchased cell phones to be used in detonating explosives and discussed an attack at the nearby Naval base.
Joseph Jones, also known as “Yusuf Abdulhaqq,” and Edward Schimenti, also known as “Abdul Wali,” both of Zion, were taken into custody Wednesday morning and a search warrant was executed at Jones’ residence, authorities said in a release.
DOJ officials said in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago that Jones and Schimenti, both 35, “pledged their allegiance to ISIS and advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group.”
In fall 2015, authorities said the two befriended three people they believed were fellow ISIS devotees, not knowing that two of the individuals were undercover FBI employees and the third was not an ISIS supporter, but a source cooperating with law enforcement.
Over the next several months, authorities said Jones and Schimenti met the undercover FBI employees and cooperating source on multiple occasions in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, including Waukegan, Zion, Bridgeview, North Chicago and Highland Park.
During those meetings, the complaint said the two discussed their commitment and devotion to the Islamic State, and in April 2016, they shared photographs of themselves holding the ISIS flag at the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.
In early 2017, authorities said Schimenti began engaging in physical training exercises with the cooperating source at a gym in Zion, believing that the source intended to travel overseas to fight for ISIS.
On or around Feb. 24, Schimenti and Jones allegedly met for a training session, according to the complaint, during which Schimenti said he had previously told Jones, “Man you know I'm all big, fat…[recording unintelligible]...but inshallah [God willing] the brothers will just have me be the one to cut the neck," adding, "You gotta be able to hand-to-hand.”
During that same meeting, authorities said Schimenti told the source that he was angry with a person at his job because that individual was homosexual, adding that if “Sharia [Islamic Law] comes here, we are putting you [homosexuals] on top of Sears Tower and we drop you.”
Schimenti and Jones also provided the source with cell phones, believing that they would then be taken to ISIS-controlled territory for use in detonating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in violent attacks.
In one instance, after Schimenti and the source left a cell phone store on March 4, Schimenti said “always I am thinking one day inshallah ” of the Naval graduation that takes place on “Buckley,” in reference to the Naval Station Great Lakes which is located on Buckley Street in suburban North Chicago. Schimenti allegedly added that the Navy holds graduations at the training facility every Friday and there are “many people… always thinking akhi, so pray I get the faith,” which authorities said was in reference to gathering the courage to launch some sort of attack at the base.
On or around March 26, Schimenti also told the cooperating source that he would like to see the ISIS flag “on top of the White House,” according to the complaint.
Then on April 7, officials said Schimenti and Jones drove the source to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, believing that the source would be traveling to Syria to join and fight with ISIS. While eating dinner beforehand, Jones told the source that he felt ashamed that he was not traveling as well and, according to the complaint, told the source to "drench that land with they, they blood."
Both men were charged with conspiring to knowingly provide and attempt to provide material support and resources to ISIS, authorities said, and were scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.