Two Black Lives Matter supporters in Chicago were arrested by the FBI on Wednesday for conspiring to support ISIS by plotting to send a recruit and cell phone detonators to the terrorist organization.
Federal officials arrested Edward Schimenti and Joseph Jones, both 35, in the early morning hours of Wednesday after a 19-month investigation involving four federal agents and a fifth person cooperating with the bust.
It began in September 2015 when Jones went down to the Zion Police Department for an interview about a murdered friend. There, he was approached by an undercover FBI agent who had been investigating him since discovering radical social media entries he had posted supporting terrorist activity along with pictures of Jones and Schimenti with an ISIS flag at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.
The FBI agent then built a relationship with the two to vet their radical views, and led the pair to believe they had gained access to an ISIS network created to traffic new recruits into Syria.
Jones and Schimenti allegedly helped the fifth man, the “cooperator,” obtain cellphones meant to be used as detonators and introduced him to an undercover federal agent they believed could get him to the Middle East. The two then drove the cooperator to O’Hare Airport on Friday to begin the overseas trip. Once he was gone, Jones and Schimenti allegedly planned to deliver more cellphones via the cooperator’s “aunt.”
Schimenti was plotting to attack the Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, according to investigators, and bragged about watching ISIS videos every night. He allegedly shared various videos with the undercover feds that showed infidels meeting horrific deaths – beheaded by child soldiers, drowned in a cage, and blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade.
When an undercover agent asked Jones if he considered joining ISIS, he allegedly said “every night and day” and discussed how he dreamed of dropping homosexuals off the Willis Tower and envisioned the White House adorned with an ISIS flag.
Jones attended protests with the Lake County Black Lives Matter Movement, including a 2015 rally for a man killed by Zion police. Clyde McLemore, chairman of the group, said he remembers Jones because he was extremely radical and in his rally speech told the crowd to “kill the police” and talked about blowing up the police station. He wound up taking the mic away from him due to his extremist views.
Junard Latif, a coordinator for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community mosque in Zion who’s familiar with Jones, said, “We had discussions about philosophy of Islam, and they leaned toward a more militant form of Islam. But I had no idea they would do anything like this. I can’t say enough how sad it is that people are drawn to this type of action.”
Both Jones and Schimenti were arraigned Wednesday in federal court in Chicago, where they told a U.S. Magistrate they work at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Schimenti’s mother, Joni Schimenti, insisted at the hearing that her son is not a terrorist.
Jones’ father acknowledged that his son was raised Christian and later converted to Islam.