Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, of Charlotte was arrested this morning after allegedly contacting several people over social media online, including an undercover FBI agent, one the attackers in Garland, Texas, last year, and an ISIS sympathizer in Ohio who attempted to purchase an AK-47 from an undercover law enforcement officer, according to the Justice Department‘s announcement today.
Hendricks allegedly told one person he wanted to create a sleeper cell inside the United States and mentioned military members as potential targets. He claimed to have had 10 people already signed up for the group, the Justice Department alleges.
He allegedly told one undercover agent online, “It’s hard to sift through brothers,” but, “everyday I do this day in and day out.”
According to charging documents filed in the case, in the spring of 2015, Hendricks contacted the Ohio man online, telling him he “needed people” and wanted “to get brothers to train together.” At the time, Hendricks allegedly tested the man’s religious knowledge and his willingness to commit “jihad.” In June 2015, 38-year-old Amir Said Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazi of was arrested after allegedly urging others to join ISIS, expressing his own desire to launch an attack in the United States, and then purchasing an AK-47 from an undercover FBI agent on June 19, 2015.
Hendricks had also allegedly been in touch with Elton Simpson, one of the two men who conducted the failed May 2015 attack on the “Draw Prophet Muhammad contest” in Garland, Texas. Two weeks before the attack, Hendricks allegedly told Simpson that if he sees the woman who organized the event, “[M]ake your ‘voice’ heard against her.” And, according to prosecutors, he asked an undercover agent about the event, wondering, “How big is the gathering?”, “Do you see feds there?” and “Do you see snipers?”
Hendricks has been charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. He has not yet entered a plea.
The arrest comes one day after the FBI arrested a transit police officer in Washington, D.C., for allegedly trying to support ISIS. That case marks the first time a law enforcement officer has been arrested on federal charges related to ISIS.