A former Army National Guardsman accused of plotting an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack wanted to target the organizer of a competition offering prizes to draw cartoons of Muhammad -- almost certainly the commentator and activist, Pamela Geller.
While Geller is not named in an affidavit attached to the charge sheet, a footnote makes makes clear the individual that 26-year-old Mohamed Bailor Jalloh was referring to was the organizer of a Texas event last May.
Geller, as president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, was at the time the individual credited with organizing the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest,” held in Garland, Texas.
It was attacked by two militant Islamic gunmen, both of whom were gunned down, along with a security guard. "This event was organized by the individual identified by Jalloh," the footnote in the affidavit states.
Jalloh was arrested Sunday in Loudoun County in Virginia after he bought an assault rifle at a gun shop, three months after he and a confidential FBI informant began discussing a proposed attack, according to the FBI affidavit.
The naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from Sierra Leone in west Africa, is charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State.
But Jalloh was under the eye of the FBI since March after he was introduced, via email, to the confidential informant, by a now deceased member of ISIS living abroad.
It was Jalloh who, on May 1, brought up a targeted attack against the organizer of the cartoon competition.
He asked the “confidential human source” if he ever thought about targeted killings. “Jalloh then identified a person by name who had organized multiple Draw the Prophet Mohammad contests in the United States,” the affidavit states.
It continues: “Jalloh provided the general location for this individual and described this individual as ‘evil.’ Jalloh insinuated that this individual would be an ideal focus of a targeted attack because of his/her actions against the Prophet Mohammad.”
New York-based Geller is a writer, political commentator, and activist known for her strident criticism of various forms of Islam.
According to the affidavit, Jalloh added: “Sometimes you just have to take action ... you can't be thinking too much ... you have to pick a action and take it cuz time is not on your side.”
He was radicalized and quit the National Guard after listening to the speeches of Anwar al-Awlaki , a now-deceased leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
He traveled to Africa last year and spent six months, including in Nigeria, where it is alleged he met with the Islamic militants. It was during this trip that he first made contact online with the now deceased member of ISIS, described in the affidavit as an “unindicted” co-conspirator actively plotting attacks on U.S. soil.
But the ISIS member was also in touch online with the government’s confidential source. The ISIS member connected Jalloh with the confidential source. Jalloh also brought another individual into the plot, a family member described as a second “unindicted” co-conspirator.
Jalloh said he was considering a “Nidal Hassan-style attack.” Hassan is the former U.S. Army major who killed 13 people and injured 32 in a mass shooting at Fort Hood,Texas in 2009.
Jalloh also praised Mohamed Yousef Abdulaziz, a now-deceased gunman who killed five United States military members in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July 2015, as a “very good man.”
The former guardsman, from Sterling, Virginia, was arrested Sunday after he bought an assault rifle from a gun shop in Chantilly, identified by the LoudounNow news site as the Blue Ridge Arsenal.
Earl Curtis, owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal, told the site that Jalloh came in previously but could not purchase the weapon on his first visit because he did not have the necessary three forms of identification to purchase an assault firearm. He wanted to buy a Bushmaster AR-15.
Curtis said he was suspicious and would have been reluctant to sell. But the FBI arrived and persuaded Curtis to sell Jalloh a disabled Stag Arms SA1.
Jalloh is represented by Virginia-based attorney, Ashraf Nubani, who is well known for defending clients accused of terrorist-linked offenses. He has represented Suleiman Abu Graith, Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law and a one time spokesman for al Qaeda, and, more recently, Mahmound Elhassan, a Virginia man arrested earlier this year as he boarded a plane, allegedly bound ultimately for Syria. AMI's calls to the attorney's Fairfax, Virginia, office had not been returned at the time of publication, and he had previously declined comment to the Associated Press.
Pamela Geller did not respond, by the time of publication, to an email asking for comment.