What to Know
- Haris Qamar, 26, has pleaded guilty to trying to help ISIS and faces up to 20 years in prison
- Prosecutors say Qamar worked with a governement informant to film and photograph D.C.-area landmarks to use in encouraging lone-wolf attacks
A Northern Virginia man arrested in a sting operation has pleaded guilty to trying to help the Islamic State, and faces as much as 20 years in prison.
Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke, admitted in federal court in Alexandria on Monday that he used the handle "newerajihadi" on Twitter to promote the Islamic State.
Qamar was arrested in July and charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
Prosecutors say Qamar worked with a government informant to film and photograph landmarks in the D.C. region, including the Pentagon, for use in propaganda videos to encourage lone-wolf attacks.
After the hearing Monday, Qamar's father said his son lost touch with reality as he adopted the online persona of an Islamic radical. In July, his parents told News4's Julie Carey they were deeply upset and disappointed their son wasted his education and turned to ISIS.
Qamar told an undercover FBI informant that he bought a plane ticket to Turkey but his parents prevented him from leaving. The informant reportedly asked Qamar if he would join ISIS if his father gave him his passport. If that happened, "I'm done, I leave," Qamar said, according to federal prosecutors.
Paul M. Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in a statement that this case demonstrates the reach terrorist organizations have through the use of social media.
“When Qamar could not travel overseas he attempted to assist ISIL’s propaganda campaign for the purpose of inspiring loan [sic] wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C. area,” he said.
“Qamar operated over numerous social media accounts where he proselytized ISIL’s message and praised the terrorist group when they committed gruesome acts.”