CHICAGO (CBS) — A man believed to be the leader of a suburban gang is facing federal charges for attempting to provide support to the Islamic State.
Jason Brown, also known as Abdul Ja’Me, attempted to provide $500 in support of ISIS three separate times in 2019, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Brown is alleged to have given the money to a confidential source, believing it would be sent to an ISIS soldier in combat in Syria, but who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer.
According to the criminal complaint, Brown, 37, is believed to be the leader of the AHK street gang based in west suburban Bellwood, known to traffic narcotics in the Chicago area.
He is also accused of using this position of power to recruit and radicalize AHK members to support ISIS, requiring all members to convert to Islam if they aren’t already Muslim.
Terrorism expert Tom Mockaitis weighed in on Brown’s profile.
“This is the first time, I’m aware, that a group has done this on behalf of ISIS in the United States,” Mockaitis said.
In a series of meetings that were recorded, Brown expressed his support for ISIS. He talked about joining ISIS in Syria several times, telling undercover federal agents he was jealous of the frontline fighters.
The complaint says Brown was radicalized in prison and from viewing lectures promoting ISIS and violent terrorist acts.
“They’re characterizing it as a gang because of its criminality and it’s drug dealing operations, but it could just as easily be classified as a terrorist cell, if in fact, as they’re claiming, all the members of the group had bought into the ideology,” Mockaitis said.
And while Mockaitis says Brown’s case is unique because it involves a group, it’s not the first time terror groups made a connection in Chicago.
Mockaitis recalled the case of then 18-year-old Adel Daoud, currently in federal prison for a 2012 terror attempt.
“They did a couple of years back with a plot by a young man who was going to plant a bomb outside of a tavern in Wrigleyville,” Mockaitis said.
His case has something in common with Brown’s that Mockaitis says everyone should keep in mind.
“The FBI interdicted this early, arrested the man and people should take great comfort from that,” he said.
Brown, of Lombard, was arrested Thursday and is charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
He’s being held without bail and is set to have a court hearing Nov. 21. The material support charge could lead to up to 20 years in prison.
In a separate complaint, six other members of AHK were charged with federal drug offenses, including trafficking fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.
The drug trafficking included two Chicago locations, in North Lawndale and Humboldt Park, according to the complaint.