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N.J. man who posted online about bombing Trump Tower admits hiding support for Hamas terror group

Jonathan Xie, in the 2017 Ridge High School yearbook. (Cassidy Grom | NJ Advance Media/TNS)

A Basking Ridge man admitted Tuesday to concealing his efforts at providing material support for Hamas, a Palestinian group considered a terrorist organization by United States, federal authorities announced.

Jonathan Xie, 21, pleaded guilty by videoconference in U.S. District Court in Trenton to a count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey announced with the FBI.

He was charged last year with five federal crimes, including attempting to provide support to a designated terrorist group, making false statements related to international and domestic terrorism and transmitting threats.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced in January 2021.

In May 2019, federal investigators described Xie in court papers as having been radicalized online for the previous year, since graduating high school.

His social media showed at times a teen who worked at a store and was in his high school’s marching band, but also fixated on joining Hamas, although he had no obvious cultural or religious ties to the Middle East.

In December 2018, authorities said, Xie sent $100 to an individual in Gaza who he believed to be a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades, a faction of Hamas. Then he posted on Instagram: “Just donated $100 to Hamas. Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn.”

He also expressed a desire to bomb Trump Tower and the Israeli embassy in New York City, federal authorities say. FBI surveillance observed Xie outside of Trump Tower in April 2019 and he later posted on Instagram, “I want to bomb Trump Tower.”

In another post online, in April 2019, Xie appeared in a live video and displayed a Hamas flag and a handgun. He told the viewers, “I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody,” authorities say.

Xie faces up to 10 years in prison for the charge.


© 2020 NJ Advance Media Group