Loudoun Now Staff Report
A 26-year-old Sterling man is behind bars after allegedly plotting to aid a mass shooting and providing other support to the group known as Islamic State.
Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, identified as a former member of the Army National Guard, was arrested Sunday. In a brief appearance in federal district court Tuesday, he was arraigned and held without bond.
According to the federal complaint released Tuesday, Jalloh allegedly attempted to help purchase weapons to be used in what he believed was going to be an attack on U.S. soil committed in the name of ISIS. Investigators also say he provided money to help individuals seeking to join ISIS.
The FBI’s affidavit also alleges Jalloh said he was considering a “Nidal Hassan-style attack.” Hasan is the former U.S. Army major who killed 13 people and injured 32 in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, TX, in 2009. The FBI’s confidential informant had told Jalloh that the weapons would be used in an attack on two U.S. military personnel inside the country, followed by an unspecified attack by ISIS.
The affidavit says Jalloh was born in Sierra Leone and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. While his Facebook page says he works as a control room operator at Amazon, an Amazon spokesperson said Jalloh was briefly assigned to Amazon as a contractor but was never an employee of the company.
Jalloh was arrested after Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, working with the FBI, sold him a disabled AR-15 on Saturday, July 2.
Earl Curtis, owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal, said Jalloh could not purchase the weapon on his first visit because he did not have the three forms of identification required to purchase an assault firearm.
“He seemed like a normal guy walking in,” Curtis said in an interview Tuesday. A few minutes after Jalloh left, FBI agents came into the store.
“Normally, I would have said, if the guy comes back in I’m going to refuse him,” Curtis said. “You just don’t want to have somebody purchase a gun that’s going to cause some type of harm.”
Instead, the FBI persuaded Curtis to sell Jalloh a disabled firearm. Jalloh came back to the store in the evening, purchased a Stag Arms SA1, which a Blue Ridge Arsenal employee disabled, and was arrested the next day.
According to court documents and court proceedings, in March, a now-deceased member of ISIS brokered an introduction between Jalloh and an individual in the U.S. who was working with the FBI as confidential source. The ISIS member was plotting an attack in the U.S. and believed the attack would be carried out with the assistance of Jalloh and FBI’s confidential source.
Jalloh allegedly met with the FBI source in April and May. During the April meeting, Jalloh told the source that he was a former member of the Virginia Army National Guard, but that he had decided to quit after listening to online lectures by Anwar al-Aulaqi, a deceased leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Jalloh stated that he recently had taken a six-month trip to Africa, where he had met with ISIS members in Nigeria and began communicating online with the ISIS member who later brokered his introduction to the FBI source.
During that meeting, Jalloh also told the source that he often thought about conducting an attack and that he knew how to shoot guns. Jalloh praised the gunman who killed five U.S. military members in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, TN, last July, and stated that he had been thinking about conducting an attack similar to the 2009 attack at Ft. Hood, TX.
During the May meeting, Jalloh asked the source about the timeline for an operation and commented that it was better to plan an operation for the month of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month currently being observed. “I will support with whatever you need from me, I need the reward from Allah and my sins to be forgiven,” Jalloh said, according to the FBI avadavat.
Jalloh also asked whether the source could assist him by donating to ISIS. Ultimately, Jalloh provided a prepaid cash transfer of $500 to a contact of the FBI source that Jalloh believed was a member of ISIS, but who was in fact an undercover FBI employee.
In June, Jalloh travelled to North Carolina and made multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain firearms, before he bought an assault rifle rendered inoperable at Blue Ridge Arsenal on Saturday. He was arrested the following day and the FBI seized the gun.
All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, one of the nation’s largest mosques, has been proactive in its efforts to build bridges among other faiths and to denounce violence and radical teachings. Following the news of Jalloh’s arrest, Rizwan Jaka, who chairs the ADAMS board emailed a statement.
He cautioned the public to remember that criminal complaints are not evidence of guilt, and that law enforcement informants should not go so far as to target one group based on race or religion. “We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a fringe minuscule minority of miscreants acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),” he wrote.
But Jaka also called for a complete investigation and prosecution if Jalloh is found guilty. He condemned violent extremism and said the Muslim community in Northern Virginia disassociates itself with these “un-Islamic acts.”
“ADAMS has always been clear and very forthright in our position that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they falsely claim to represent,” he said.
Jaka urged anyone with information about any suspicious activities related to Jalloh to contact the FBI Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.
If convicted on the charges, Jalloh faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.