TRENTON, NJ—A Basking Ridge man admitted on Tuesday to concealing his support of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Jonathan Xie, 21, of Basking Ridge, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“Xie admitted that he knew Hamas was a designated foreign terrorist organization and has engaged in terrorist activities,” said a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office, “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.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s release, in December 2018, Xie sent $100 via Moneygram to someone in the Palestinain territory of Gaza, who Xie believed to be a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades, a faction of Hamas that is responsible for suicide attacks in Israel. At about the same time, 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,” according to the release.
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,” according to the release.
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, according to the U.S. Attorney.
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. Around April 26, 2019, Xie sent approximately $20 in Bitcoin via the website as a test to see whether the Bitcoin feature worked, according to the release. When the undercover FBI employee asked whether Bitcoin was anonymous, Xie responded: “yah… i think thats why hamas is using it now because money transfer is not that anonymous.”
Xie was arrested by federal agents in May 2019.
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. Xie is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2021.
—with reporting by Tom Davis