Erick Hendricks, 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on February 4, 2019 for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
A jury in Akron, Ohio, convicted Hendricks last year of attempting and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith of the FBI.
Hendricks is a US citizen that became radicalized online and attempted to recruit and train individuals to commit jihad, all while living in the United States on behalf of ISIS.
“Hendricks used social media to recruit others to plan and carry out attacks on our homeland in the name of ISIS, with the goal of creating a sleeper cell on our soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, Hendricks’ plan was thwarted, and with today’s sentence, he is being held accountable for his terrorist activities.”
Hendricks had contacted a man named Amir Al-Ghazi over social media to recruit him in the spring of 2015.
Amir Al-Ghazi was arrested in the Northern District of Ohio in June 2015 after attempting to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer. Al-Ghazi had pledged allegiance to ISIS in social media and made statements expressing interest in conducting attacks in the U.S.
Al-Ghazi said Hendricks tested his religious knowledge and commitment, inquiring about his willingness to commit “jihad,” to die as a “martyr” and his desire to enter “jannah” (paradise).
Hendricks also communicated over social media with several other people, including an undercover FBI employee. Hendricks told his recruits to never leave their home without their AK-47 or M16.
Hendricks told his recruits and the undercover FBI agent that his goal was to create a sleeper cell to be trained and housed at a secure compound that would conduct attacks in the U.S.
Potential targets included military members whose information had been released by ISIS.
Hendricks used social media to contact Elton Simpson, who, along with Nadir Hamid Soofi, was inspired by ISIS. On May 3, 2015 they launched the attack on the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas.
Simpson and Soofi opened fire, wounding a security guard, before Garland police returned fire and killed both Simpson and Soofi.
Al-Ghazi is serving a 16-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and being a felon in possession of firearms.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s offices in Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Baltimore; and Charlotte, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Maryland, District of South Carolina and the Western District of North Carolina.