A New Jersey man charged with sending money to Hamas militants polled his Instagram audience asking 'should I bomb Trump Tower,' court documents say
- A New Jersey man was arrested Wednesday and accused of trying to donate to the terrorist group Hamas.
- Jonathan Xie, 20, made a number of posts on Instagam advocating for Hamas, asking his followers whether he should bomb Trump Tower, and even suggesting detonating a truck with explosives at the Coachella festival, according to a criminal complaint.
- Xie is charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, lying on his application to enlist in the US Army, and making threats.
- Federal prosecutors in New Jersey called Xie a "homegrown violent extremist."
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A New Jersey man was arrested Wednesday after investigators say he donated to the terrorist group Hamas, polled his Instagram audience on whether to bomb Trump Tower, and suggested filling a truck with explosives and detonating it at the Coachella music festival.
Jonathan Xie, 20, faces five counts, with charges that include attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, lying on his application to enlist in the US army, and making threats, according to a criminal complaint.
Xie first came to the FBI's attention in January 2019 when a tipster alerted the agency that Xie was boasting in a group chat about donating to Hamas and threatening to gun down pro-Israel supporters at an al-Quds Day parade.
Investigators found dozens of troubling social media posts
FBI investigators then found dozens of Instagram posts and YouTube videos they said belonged to Xie, which were littered with extremist propaganda and violent language. They said Xie openly expressed support for Hezbollah, the Houthi movement in Yemen, Syrian President Bashar Assad, North Korea, and Saddam Hussein.
In one picture investigators said Xie posted to his Instagram stories, he wrote that he had donated $100 to Hamas and didn't "give a damn" if it was illegal.
Investigators said they obtained Moneygram records showing that Xie had indeed transferred $100 to an individual in Gaza, and email records showing that he had received instructions on how to donate to the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing.
'A homegrown violent extremist'
Xie also wrote on Instagram that he was joining the US Army "to learn how to kill/So I can use that knowledge," investigators said.
The criminal complaint included text from the Instagram posts and noted that Xie had written "No" when asked on his Army application forms whether he had "ever associated with anyone involved in activities to further terrorism."
According to the FBI, Xie wrote in one post:
"Israel does that so they can kill innocent women and children
Idk if I pass the training
If I should do lone wolf
That is why I have to learn military techniques from the Army
To stop these people."
Just last month, Xie and his brother visited Trump Tower in New York City, FBI investigators said, citing surveillance. Investigators said he then posted two photos on Instagram - one with the caption, "I want to bomb Trump Tower," and the other with the caption, "Should I bomb Trump Tower" and a "Yes/No" poll. The latter image even had a bomb emoji hovering over Trump Tower, according to court documents.
In the following days, Xie made a number of increasingly violent Instagram posts, investigators said, including saying President Donald Trump "should be hung from the gallows!" and that he wanted to bomb the Israeli embassy in New York City along with Trump Tower.
Investigators said Xie also mused about renting a truck to ram pro-Israel demonstrators, or shoot them, and suggested someone "get a truck filled with explosives and blow up the Coachella event."
In a statement, the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, called Xie a "homegrown violent extremist."
Prosecutors said Xie could receive up to 20 years in prison for each count of attempting to support a terrorist organization, up to eight years for each count of lying in his army application forms, and up to five years for making a threat in interstate commerce. Xie has yet to enter a plea.