GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Mohamed Fathy Suliman with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Suliman, formerly of Gainesville, was previously charged by a criminal complaint and made his initial appearance on February 1. He was arrested by the FBI following his expulsion from a foreign country. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the indictment.
“Protecting national security is a top priority of this office,” said U.S. Attorney Keefe. “We are absolutely committed to deterring, disrupting and dismantling the plans of anyone who seeks to support a designated foreign terrorist organization. Together with our law enforcement partners, we stand ready to counter any threats to our nation or to our fellow citizens.”
The prior complaint filed in the case alleged that Suliman, 33, a U.S. citizen, left Gainesville, Florida, travelled to Turkey, and attempted to enter Syria illegally in 2014 in an effort to join and support ISIS. According to the complaint affidavit, Suliman made a one-way flight reservation in June 2014, from Orlando, Florida, to Alexandria, Egypt, with stops in Chicago, Illinois, and Istanbul, Turkey. Suliman initiated his travel on June 12, 2014, but when he arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, rather than traveling on to Egypt, Suliman paid cash for a one-way airline ticket to the Turkish/Syrian border town of Gaziantep, Turkey.
On June 14, 2014, Suliman was arrested by Turkish authorities for illegally crossing into Syria from Turkey. During an interview of Suliman by an FBI agent in 2018, the indictment alleges that Suliman stated he had researched how to get to Syria, and had purchased the plane ticket to Egypt to disguise his true travel plans from family and others. Suliman also allegedly admitted that he purchased the airline ticket to Gaziantep, Turkey, with cash to avoid creating an electronic record of the purchase. Suliman went on to admit that he attempted to enter Syria and was arrested by Turkish authorities.
“The FBI Jacksonville Joint Terrorism Task Force will spare no resource in our work to protect Americans from threats posed by violent foreign terrorist organizations,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “This case illustrates our steadfast commitment and tireless efforts to identify and bring to justice those who threaten our national security by assisting those organizations and promoting violent extremism.”
Suliman’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for March 3, at 2:30 p.m. EST, at the U.S. Courthouse in Gainesville. If convicted, Suliman faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
This indictment resulted from an investigation by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Kunz is prosecuting this case with the assistance of Trial Attorney Elisabeth Poteat of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to due process, to include a fair trial, during which it is the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.