There’s no question that social media has had a significant impact on how we communicate with each other. Sadly, terrorist organizations have also adopted social networking as a way to hire new recruits, spread their message and connect with others interested in committing terrorism.
If you use the Internet to facilitate criminal activity, you need to know that the United States government can aggressively prosecute you and if you are convicted, you face a lengthy prison sentence followed by a term of supervised release that could last the rest of your life.
Let’s take a look at a recent example of how using social media to encourage terrorism was discovered by federal agents, resulting in serious consequences for the defendant…
A Recent Case of Using Facebook for Terrorism in Garden Grove
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen was recently convicted of federal terrorism charges after using Facebook to connect with al-Qaeda. He admitted to attempting to assist the terrorist network by providing weapons training. A Federal prosecutor said Nguyen planned to offer himself as a trainer to al-Qaida forces in an effort to ambush troops in Syria. That offer was ultimately declined.
According to his plea agreement, Nguyen admitted that approximately one year ago he traveled to Syria where he joined opposition forces. During a four-month period while he was in Syria, Nguyen admitted to using Facebook to convey details of his activities in his effort to practice jihad. Nguyen told people that he was fighting against the Assad regime and that he had had a “confirmed kill."
Between August 3 and October 11, 2013, Nguyen met with an undercover FBI agent whom he believed to be an al-Qaeda recruiter named “Amir.” He told the agent about his activities in Syria and that he wanted to return to jihad. In October, Nguyen bought a ticket to Pakistan for a flight originating out of Mexico. On October 11, he was arrested by FBI agents in Santa Ana as he was about to board a bus on his way out of the country.
Nguyen pleaded guilty to a Federal terrorism charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B.
At his sentencing in March, Nguyen faces up to 15 years in federal prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. If he violates any of the terms of his supervised release, he can be returned to custody for the remainder of his life.
Be Careful What You Share on Social Media
When used responsibly, social media can be a great way to share your life with friends and family members. However, be advised that what you post becomes a permanent record and can be accessed by virtually anyone, even if you post privately.
Using Facebook as a sounding board to report your activities or vent your frustrations can lead to serious consequences.
In 2010, a teacher from Massachusetts lost her job after she posted disparaging comments about her coworkers on Facebook. In 2011, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner was forced to resign after posting a lewd photograph of himself on Twitter.
More frequently, law enforcement is using social media as an invaluable tool to solve crimes. From posting details about a wanted suspect in an effort to encourage others to come forward with information leading to an arrest to creating fake profiles intended to ensnare someone intending to do wrong, law enforcement is paying attention to the power of social media.
What you post on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be used like a digital fingerprint. Be careful what you share!
Contact Wallin & Klarich today
If you or someone you care about has been accused of criminal activity involving the use of social media, you need to speak to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich right away. You could be prosecuted in either state or federal court, depending on the circumstances of your offense.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing both state and federal criminal charges. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the very best legal representation. We will do everything we can to help you win your case.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.