A Bernards man admitted in federal court Tuesday to concealing his attempts to provide support to Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Jonathan Xie, 21, of the Basking Ridge section, pleaded guilty via video conference before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp to one count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.
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, according to the statement.
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, the statement said.
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, according to the statement.
Around 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,” according to the statement.
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,” the statement said.
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,” the statement said.
Later in the video, Xie displayed a Hamas flag and retrieved a handgun. He then said, “I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody,” according to the statement.
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,” the statement said.
In April 2019, Xie sent a link to a website for the Al-Qassam Brigades to an undercover FBI employee online.
Xie described the website as a “Hamas” website and said 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 thats 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.
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Nick Muscavage is a watchdog reporter for the Courier News, Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to his investigative work that has exposed wrongdoing and changed state law, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.