A 17-year-old was arrested at the home of prominent Philadelphia defense attorney Qawi Abdul-Rahman on Friday following a months-long investigation into allegations of terrorist activity.
The teen, whose relation to the lawyer has not been made public, was subsequently charged with weapons of mass destruction, criminal conspiracy, arson, causing/risking catastrophe, attempt to commit criminal mischief, possession of an instrument of crime, and recklessly endangering another person.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to connect the teen to "individuals and groups designated by the US State Department as global terrorists." Among them was Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, a violent organization based out of Syria that has carried out attacks across Asia.
Investigators found an Instagram account belonging to the teen that was used to communicate with a KTJ-affiliated account, as well as a Whatsapp account that used as its profile picture the banner of the Chechnya-based Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyrs' Brigade, and later that of the Islamic State.
The teen was observed on August 7 "purchasing materials that can be used to make IEDs," parts of which were recovered from a garbage can at the home. The following day, it was revealed that 14 shipments of "military and tactical gear" had been arranged to the address.
"The work of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force potentially thwarted a catastrophic terrorist attack in the name of a perverted ideology that in no way, shape, or form represents the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of peace-seeking people of faith, including Muslims,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
"The charges we have filed against this individual represent the most serious alleged terrorist activity prosecuted in Philadelphia County court in recent history. We intend to pursue full accountability for these crimes and will continue to work vigilantly with our law enforcement partners to protect all of our communities from hateful, ideologically driven acts of violence."
He went on to warn parents about the "self-radicalization" of youth via the internet, urging them to "keep an eye out for violent cults that would lure in your kids under the guise of politics or religion."
Abdul-Rahman has not commented on the matter, though when asked by phillymag.com if the teen was his son, he allegedly replied, "You wanna find out what I'm really about? Text or call me one more time, and you'll find out what I'm really about."
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