CHICAGO — The raid of a home in the North Side’s Budlong Woods neighborhood this week was part of a federal investigation that resulted in a Chicago man being charged with conspiring to help ISIS.
Ashraf Al Safoo, 34, was arrested in the Wednesday raid at the home in the 5200 block of North Virginia, near the intersection of Foster and Francisco, authorities said.
He’s accused of aiding “ISIS in using social media to spread propaganda supporting violent jihad, to recruit operatives, and to encourage others to carry out terrorist attacks,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.
Prosecutors said Al Safoo, who also goes by “Abu Al’-Abbas Al-Iraqi,” “Abu Shanab,” and “Abbusi,” is charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. He is a naturalized citizen of Iraqi descent, according to the feds.
He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman Friday and was ordered held in federal custody.
A criminal complaint alleges that Al Safoo was directed by and coordinated with the Islamic State.
Wednesday’s raid was part of an investigation by the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes federal, state and Chicago investigators.
“At a time when the threat from internet-inspired terrorism remains high, we must be vigilant against those who disseminate on-line propaganda promoting violence in support of ISIS, like Ashraf al Safoo is alleged to have conspired to have done,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers.
The feds allege Al Safoo is a member of Khattab Media Foundation, described as “an internet-based organization that has sworn an oath of allegiance to ISIS and created and disseminated ISIS propaganda online.”
Al Safoo is accused in a 59-page criminal complaint of making and posting pro-ISIS videos, essays and graphics on social media platforms. “Much of the propaganda created and distributed by Khattab promotes violent jihad on behalf of ISIS and ISIS’s media office,” the criminal complaint alleges.
In a post on Nov. 4, 2017, Al Safoo allegedly encouraged people to help ISIS in any way possible, including by offering money or themselves, the feds said
The feds say Al Safoo wrote, “Thus, it was incumbent on us to support them verbally and with money and soul and by inciting others to target the tyrants and expose the evil scholars and the Saudi rulers,” the complaint states.
On May 23, 2018, according to the complaint, Al Safoo posted on multiple social media sites: “Brothers, roll up your sleeves! Cut video publications into small clips, take still shots, and post the hard work of your brothers in the apostate’s pages and sites. Participate in the war, and spread fear.”