A teenager ISIS supporters are said to have conspired to come to Chicago with two other people during spring break and kill worshipers at a Shia mosque, according to federal court filings that were not sealed on Friday.
“If they do not encounter law enforcement by that time, they will proceed to another Shia mosque or synagogue and carry out the same scheme,” one applicant wrote. “They didn’t plan to run away but rather their plan ended with them being shot by law enforcement.”
Xavier Pelkey, 18, was arrested in February by FBI agents in Waterville, Maine, and charged with possession of unregistered destructive devices.
According to prosecutors, Pelkey conspired with an unnamed person in Chicago, along with a third person in Kentucky, to carry out the spring break terrorist attack this month. The others were not identified in court records because they were minors.
Targeting a Shia mosque, even adherents of Jihadi-Salafi Islam — the radical race based on ISIS ideology — is particularly notable, said Bennett Clifford, a senior researcher at the George Washington University Extremism Program, said.
Clifford told The Daily Beast: “It’s not uncommon for ISIS supporters to target religious facilities. “But most of the time, those targets are churches or synagogues, with the synagogue being the primary target. A Shia mosque, despite ISIS rhetoric about targeting Shia people, is relatively uncommon. “
Clifford also points out that the ages of the suspects make this particular case unusual.
“The average age of all the more than 230 people charged since 2014 in ISIS-related cases is around 28,” said Clifford. “The people in this case are basically below that threshold, [which is] immediately attacked me. ”
The case against Pelkey was kicked off on February 5, when FBI agents executed a search warrant on the home of a 15-year-old boy living in Chicago, according to an affidavit filed by Agent Garrett Drew. There, they seized a variety of weapons, including a Remington pump pistol, swords, knives, bows and arrows, many homemade ISIS flags and various electronic devices.
The teenager, who was identified in the filing as “Adolescent #1,” told agents that he had communicated online with a person claiming to be “Abdullah” and that they, along with a third person, were on the Internet. plans to “carry out a violent attack” at a Shia mosque in the area, according to the affidavit.
“Abdullah and others would travel by bus or train to meet Juvenile #1,” it explained. “Abdullah’s responsibility is to buy more guns and ammunition. Abdullah informed Juvenile #1 that he had built an explosive device, to ‘get more people.’
The plan, according to Juvenile #1, was to get inside the mosque and separate the adults from the children, “then kill the adults,” the affidavit continued. They would then move on to other goals, ending with what has come to be known as “police suicide. ”
Juvenile #1 handed over management of Abdullah’s Instagram to agents, who tracked down the account’s IP address at an apartment in Waterville, Maine. On February 11, the FBI raided the house, where they met Pelkey, who confirmed the Instagram account was his.
In a backpack in Pelkey’s bedroom, investigators said they discovered three homemade bombs, along with two hand-painted ISIS flags.
Two days later, FBI agents raided the home of an unnamed 17-year-old boy in Kentucky. Identified as “Adolescent #2,” employees learned that he also communicated with Pelkey on Instagram by the name “Abdullah.”
“Abdullah talked about gathering materials to make fireworks to attack someone,” the affidavit read. “Adolescent #2 also said that Abdullah told him that he wanted Allah to grant him to become an evil man and die while fighting for the cause of Allah. I know from my training and experience that ‘shaheed’ is an Arabic word meaning a martyr in Islam. “
An FBI bomb technician analyzed explosives discovered in Pelkey’s bedroom, and found pins, pins and thumb clips inside. This, according to the complaint in the case against Pelkeymeans “to increase the amount of shrapnel emitted from an explosion if the device is detonated.”
When asked why the fireworks in the improvised bombs were put together, Pelkey is said to have told agents he wanted to create a “bigger explosion,” the affidavit read.
Pelkey’s arrest marks the first arrest by IS in Maine, according to Clifford.
“If you had told me a few years ago they had arrested a teenager in Waterville for planning an attack on ISIS, I would have been very surprised,” he told The Daily Beast. “A lot of these people come from very different backgrounds and different hometowns where you don’t necessarily expect this kind of activity to take place.”
The explosive devices that FBI agents say they found in Pelkey’s apartment do not look like those commonly seen in terrorist attacks in the United States, which Clifford said often followed established guidelines. in Al Qaeda propaganda from the 2010s – which he describes as the “tube bomb method and the pressure cooker method. “
The bombs that Pelkey is said to have built are “on par with [scant] Clifford explained. “Most of these people are untrained and have little experience as bomb makers, they often shoot for the moon and fail. [properly] make a device or they make something like this, a rudimentary device with fireworks around it and small items like ball bearings. This is not a high-tech explosive device. It can still be very deadly, but not something that shows… a high level of technical sophistication about how to make a bomb.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is based in Chicago called for criminal charges against Pelkey after being arrested last month.
On Friday, Saadia Pervaiz, a spokeswoman for CAIR, told The Daily Beast that the organization’s stance on this has not changed.
“We continue to see all Muslim Americans pushed down under this terrorist bloc,” she said. “But terrorism is not Islam, and we would like to see hate crime allegations against these individuals.”
Radical groups like ISIS “do not reflect all of the values or teachings of Islam,” Pervaiz continued. “These fringe groups are concerned with the socio-political situation abroad and have nothing to do with faith, but with politics. they are [wrongly] use faith to justify their politics”.
If convicted, Pelkey faces 10 years in prison. The two alleged accomplices have not been charged, due to their underage. Pelkey’s attorney, Christopher K. MacLean, did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.