An Oregon man, Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Mothafar, an Iraqi national residing in Troutdale, Oregon, admitted to producing and distributing propaganda and recruiting materials online in coordination with ISIS members overseas. He was the co-founder of the Sunni Shield Foundation, a pro-ISIS media organization that created and published violent propaganda to promote ISIS ideology and objectives. Mothafar’s guilty plea comes after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, attempting to provide material support, making false statements in an immigration application, and false statements to a government agency. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and will be sentenced on January 11, 2024. The case was investigated by the FBI Portland Field Office and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
Plea of Guilty to Conspiring to Provide Material Support to ISIS
In a significant development in the fight against terrorism, an Oregon man named Hawazen Sameer Mothafar recently pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Mothafar’s involvement with ISIS included producing and distributing propaganda and recruiting materials online, in coordination with ISIS members overseas. The case highlights the growing threat of online radicalization and the importance of international cooperation in countering ISIS.
Details of the Case
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, a 33-year-old Iraqi national residing in Troutdale, Oregon, has been involved with ISIS since 2014. He co-founded the Sunni Shield Foundation, a pro-ISIS media organization that created and published violent propaganda to promote ISIS ideology and objectives. Mothafar’s role within the organization included creating the Sunni Shield’s first media product—a video featuring ISIS battle footage obtained from an official ISIS online platform.
Furthermore, Mothafar encouraged viewers through subsequent videos to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for ISIS and carry out attacks on behalf of the organization. Mothafar’s involvement with ISIS was not limited to the Sunni Shield Foundation; he also collaborated with other pro-ISIS media organizations and conspired with numerous ISIS associates to further support the terrorist organization.
Importance of the Case
The significance of Mothafar’s case lies in its contribution to combating terrorism and preventing online radicalization. By pleading guilty, Mothafar has acknowledged his own involvement in providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. This conviction sends a strong message to individuals who may be considering joining or supporting terrorist organizations through online platforms. Additionally, this case underscores the need for continued efforts in countering terrorism and highlights the critical role of international cooperation in addressing the global threat posed by ISIS and other extremist groups.
Profile of the Defendant
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar – An Iraqi National
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar, an Iraqi national, immigrated to the United States from Iraq in 2014. Since his arrival, he has resided in Troutdale, Oregon. Mothafar’s involvement with ISIS began shortly after his arrival in the U.S., marking him as a significant figure in the pro-ISIS movement.
Immigration to the U.S.
Mothafar’s immigration to the U.S. in 2014 provided him with opportunities to exploit online platforms and spread ISIS propaganda. This case highlights the challenges posed by individuals who enter a country under the guise of seeking asylum or refuge but instead use their residency to support extremist ideologies. It serves as a reminder of the importance of scrutinizing immigration processes to prevent individuals with links to terrorism from entering the country.
Involvement with ISIS
Mothafar’s involvement with ISIS was extensive. As the co-founder of the Sunni Shield Foundation, he played a crucial role in the creation and dissemination of violent propaganda videos. Additionally, Mothafar collaborated with other pro-ISIS media organizations and actively conspired with numerous ISIS associates to provide support to the terrorist organization. His involvement sheds light on the global reach of ISIS and the ongoing threat posed by its propaganda machine.
Role in ISIS Propaganda
Founding of the Sunni Shield Foundation
Mothafar’s role as the co-founder of the Sunni Shield Foundation was crucial in the dissemination of ISIS propaganda. The Sunni Shield Foundation served as a pro-ISIS media organization, responsible for creating and publishing violent propaganda materials. By founding this organization, Mothafar contributed to the recruitment and radicalization efforts of ISIS.
Creation of Violent Propaganda Videos
As part of his involvement with the Sunni Shield Foundation, Mothafar created the organization’s first media product—a video featuring ISIS battle footage. This video was intended to promote ISIS ideology and objectives. By creating and distributing violent propaganda videos, Mothafar played a key role in spreading extremist messages and recruiting individuals to join ISIS.
Encouraging Travel to Iraq and Syria
In addition to producing propaganda videos, Mothafar used his platform to encourage viewers to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for ISIS and carry out attacks on behalf of the organization. His role in promoting travel to conflict zones demonstrates the dangerous influence of online propaganda and underscores the importance of detecting and countering the radicalization process.
Collaboration with ISIS Central Media
Permission to Publish Al Anfal
Mothafar and other members of the Sunni Shield Foundation obtained permission from ISIS Central Media to publish Al Anfal, an online newspaper promoting the goals and advocating violent jihad in support of the Islamic State. This collaboration with ISIS Central Media demonstrates Mothafar’s active engagement with the highest levels of the extremist organization.
Planning and Production of the Publication
As part of his responsibilities, Mothafar oversaw the planning and production of Al Anfal. He served as one of its graphic designers, using his skills to create graphics that incited readers to attack and kill Westerners and conduct knife attacks against ISIS enemies. Mothafar’s involvement in these activities further emphasizes the seriousness of his commitment to advancing ISIS’s agenda.
Direct Communication with ISIS Officials
Mothafar had direct communication with ISIS Central Media officials in Iraq, through whom he regularly received instructions about media production. His interactions with these officials demonstrate his position of influence within the pro-ISIS media landscape. By communicating directly with high-ranking ISIS members, Mothafar played a significant role in coordinating and implementing official ISIS media campaigns.
Involvement with Pro-ISIS Media Organizations
Aiding the Khattab Media Foundation
In addition to his work with the Sunni Shield Foundation, Mothafar provided graphic designs to the Khattab Media Foundation, another pro-ISIS media organization. His contribution to this organization further highlights his dedication to supporting and promoting the terrorist group’s ideologies and activities.
Production of the Youth of the Caliphate Magazine
Mothafar was also involved in the production of the “Youth of the Caliphate” magazine, which served as a recruitment tool for ISIS. By participating in the publication of this magazine, Mothafar actively contributed to the radicalization process and expansion of ISIS’s recruitment base.
Publishing ISIS News on Nashr News Agency Channels
Mothafar’s involvement extended to publishing ISIS news on Nashr News Agency channels. By leveraging existing media platforms, Mothafar and his associates further disseminated ISIS propaganda, amplifying the reach of the terrorist organization’s messages.
Assistance to Other Terrorist Entities
Collaboration with Fursan al-Rafa’ (Knights of Uploading)
Mothafar collaborated with Fursan al-Rafa’ (Knights of Uploading), assisting in the publication of various pro-ISIS materials on different websites. His collaboration with this entity demonstrates the breadth of his involvement in online platforms and his commitment to advancing the goals of ISIS.
Graphic Designs for the Saqri Foundation
Mothafar provided graphic designs to the Saqri Foundation, another organization aligned with ISIS. By offering his graphic design skills to this foundation, Mothafar played a direct role in supporting and furthering the activities of this terrorist entity.
Connections with Abu Qaswara al-Shanqiti
Mothafar established communication with Abu Qaswara al-Shanqiti, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist imprisoned in West Africa. He aimed to aid Qaswara al-Shanqiti’s release by connecting him with two ISIS officials. This connection highlights Mothafar’s willingness to support and collaborate with individuals involved in terrorism, further exposing the extent of his involvement in promoting extremist ideologies.
Indictment and Legal Proceedings
Federal Grand Jury Indictment
On November 3, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a five-count indictment against Hawazen Sameer Mothafar. The indictment charged Mothafar with conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and making false statements in an immigration application and to a government agency. The indictment outlined the serious charges and served as the foundation for the subsequent legal proceedings.
Charges and Potential Penalties
Mothafar faced multiple charges related to his involvement with ISIS and the provision of material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a life term of supervised release. The severity of the charges reflects the gravity of Mothafar’s actions and the potential harm caused by his support to a terrorist organization.
Sentencing Date and Judge’s Name
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar’s sentencing was scheduled for January 11, 2024, before U.S. District Court Judge Marco A. Hernández. The sentencing hearing would determine the final outcome of the case and the penalties imposed on Mothafar for his involvement in supporting ISIS.
Investigation and Prosecution
FBI Portland Field Office’s Investigation
The investigation into Hawazen Sameer Mothafar’s involvement with ISIS was conducted by the FBI Portland Field Office. The federal agents involved in the investigation worked diligently to gather evidence and build a strong case against Mothafar. Their efforts played a crucial role in bringing him to justice.
Role of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon led the prosecution of Hawazen Sameer Mothafar. The attorneys involved in the case brought their expertise in counterterrorism law to bear, ensuring that Mothafar faced the full consequences of his actions in supporting a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Impact and Implications
Significance of the Case in Combating Terrorism
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar’s guilty plea and the subsequent legal proceedings mark a significant milestone in the fight against terrorism. The case exemplifies the determination of law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute individuals involved in supporting terrorist organizations. By holding individuals accountable for their actions, this case helps to disrupt the networks that enable extremist ideologies to thrive.
Preventing Online Radicalization and Recruitment
Mothafar’s case underscores the urgent need to address online radicalization and recruitment. His involvement in creating and disseminating extremist propaganda through various media organizations highlights the power of online platforms in promoting extremist ideologies. To effectively counter radicalization, it is crucial to target and dismantle these online networks and develop robust strategies to prevent vulnerable individuals from being lured into the world of terrorism.
International Cooperation in Countering ISIS
The investigation and prosecution of Hawazen Sameer Mothafar also highlight the importance of international cooperation in countering ISIS and other extremist groups. As an Iraqi national living in the United States and collaborating with overseas members of ISIS, Mothafar’s case demonstrates the need for close coordination between law enforcement agencies across borders. Continued collaboration in intelligence sharing, information exchange, and joint investigations is crucial to effectively combatting the transnational threat posed by terrorist organizations.
Key Takeaways from the Case
Hawazen Sameer Mothafar’s guilty plea and the subsequent legal proceedings provide valuable insights into the operations of ISIS propaganda networks and the methods used by individuals to support and promote violent ideologies. The case highlights the importance of comprehensive investigations and international cooperation in countering terrorism effectively.
Long-Term Implications for National Security
The investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Mothafar send a clear message that providing support to designated terrorist organizations will not be tolerated. By addressing the threat posed by individuals like Mothafar, national security agencies aim to disrupt the networks and resources that enable terrorism to flourish. The lessons learned from this case will inform ongoing efforts to safeguard national security and counter extremist ideologies.
Continued Efforts in the Fight against Terrorism
The case of Hawazen Sameer Mothafar serves as a reminder that the fight against terrorism is an ongoing battle. While his guilty plea is a significant step forward, it is imperative to continue developing strategies, conducting thorough investigations, and promoting international cooperation to counter the evolving threat of extremist ideologies. With proactive measures and collaborative efforts, law enforcement agencies worldwide can work towards a safer and more secure future.