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AZ man gets 12 years for helping college student join ISIS

A judge advocate office gavel. (Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte/U.S. Air Force)
December 21, 2018

A 48-year-old Arizona man will serve 12 years in federal prison for his role in assisting a college student into Syria to join ISIS.

Ahmed Mohammed el-Gammal was sentenced on Tuesday by Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan federal court, according to the Justice Department.

In court, el-Gammal said, “I love this country. I ask for forgiveness and mercy.”

He was convicted in Jan. 2017 of helping to make it possible for the 24-year-old Baruch College student, Samy el-Goarany, to join and train with ISIS.

El-Goarany was eventually killed while serving ISIS, Fox News reported.

In Aug. 2014, Samy el-Goarany started to display his support for ISIS on social media, which prompted el-Gammal to reach out to him, and they connected through an encrypted communications platform.

The pair remained in close contact for months. In Oct. 2014, el-Gammal met with el-Goarany at his college in New York City.

During the meeting, el-Gammal gave El-Goarany the contact information for Ateia Aboualala, his Turkey connection.

El-Gammal said that this person could help him travel to Turkey and into ISIS-controlled Syria.

Allegedly, el-Goarany traveled to Turkey in late Jan. 2015 and then entered Syria, where he began training under ISIS.

El-Goarany kept in contact with el-Gammal and correspondence that he sent on July 16, 2015 said, “Life has changed a lot for me at this new job but I love it and I don’t regret taking up the offer. May God reward you with goodness,”

El-Goarany’s brother got word from an ISIS member on Nov. 23, 2015 that his brother had been killed.

He forwarded a letter written by el-Goarany that said, “If you’re reading this then know that I’ve been killed in battle and am now with our Lord, inshaAllah. Remember what I told you . . . we will win this war one day, this war between Iman (Belief) and Kufr (Disbelief) between Good and Evil. . . .”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Once again, we have shown that terrorists and terrorist enablers can be brought to justice fairly, openly, and swiftly in the crown jewel of our justice system – civilian courts. Today, a jury in federal court in Manhattan convicted Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal of material support of terrorism. To grow their brand of hate-filled violence and radicalization, terrorist organizations like ISIS need facilitators and promoters around the world. And the jury found today that Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal was one such terrorist facilitator. An Ambassador for ISIS right here in America, El Gammal actively touted and glamorized ISIS online, ultimately recruiting and helping a New York college student travel to an ISIS camp in Syria for military training. That New Yorker died waging jihad, and for El Gammal’s active role in sending him down that trail to terror, he now stands convicted of federal terrorism crimes.”