TRENTON, N.J – A Somerset County man admitted Tuesday that he concealed his attempts to provide material support to Hamas, according to federal authorities.
Jonathan Xie, 21, of Basking Ridge, pleaded guilty by video conference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with one count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn announced.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Xie admitted that he knowingly concealed and disguised the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the attempt to provide material support and resources to Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya and the Islamic Resistance Movement, an organization that is commonly referred to as Hamas.
Xie admitted that he knew Hamas was a designated foreign terrorist organization and has engaged in terrorist activities. He said he attempted to conceal the attempted support believing it would be used to commit or assist in the commission of a violent act.
In December 2018, Xie sent $100 via Moneygram to an individual in Gaza who Xie believed to be a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades – a faction of Hamas that has conducted attacks, to include suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. At approximately the same time that Xie sent the money, he posted on his Instagram account “Just donated $100 to Hamas. Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn.”
In April 2019, Xie appeared in an Instagram Live video wearing a black ski mask and stated that he was against Zionism and the neo-liberal establishment. When asked by another participant in the video if he would go to Gaza and join Hamas, Xie stated “yes, If I could find a way.” Later in the video, Xie displayed a Hamas flag and retrieved a handgun. He then stated “I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody.”
In subsequent Instagram posts, Xie stated, “I want to shoot the pro-israel demonstrators . . . you can get a gun and shoot your way through or use a vehicle and ram people . . . all you need is a gun or vehicle to go on a rampage . . . I do not care if security forces come after me, they will have to put a bullet in my head to stop me.”
In April 2019, Xie sent a link to a website for the Al-Qassam Brigades to an FBI employee who was acting online in an undercover capacity. Xie described the website as a “Hamas” website and stated he had previously sent a donation to the group. Xie then sent screenshots of the website to the undercover employee and demonstrated how to use a new feature on the website that allows donations to be sent via Bitcoin. On April 18, 2019, when the undercover employee asked whether Bitcoin was anonymous, Xie responded: “yah… i think that's why Hamas is using it now because money transfer is not that anonymous.”
The count of concealing attempted material support carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing for Xie is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2021.