A Cudahy woman hacked social media accounts, including Facebook, to recruit on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group and to provide instruction on such terrorism basics as making explosives and biological weapons including ricin, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Waheba Issa Dais, a 45-year-old mother of two, is in federal custody after being charged with providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” the criminal complaint states. She appeared before a federal magistrate Wednesday and is scheduled to return to court Friday to determine bail.
Dais “helped facilitate planning for attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS and overseas by providing instructions on how to make explosives, biological weapons and suicide vests,” according to an FBI affidavit used to support the criminal complaint.
In addition, the affidavit said, she “provided detailed instructions to people interested in attacks and attack planning. Dais has also expressed a personal desire to travel overseas in support of ISIS.”
Dais, a native of Jerusalem, was allowed to come to the U.S. in 1992 without a passport because of her marriage to a U.S. citizen. The couple divorced in 2003, according to court records. She is now a lawful permanent resident who the FBI believes does not work outside the home.
“The Department of Justice’s top priority is to prevent terrorism and ensure national security,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said.
According to the affidavit, Dais pledged her allegiance to the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS. She has hacked various social media accounts, posting fake names and photos, to promote ISIS and provide information on launching terrorist attacks using explosive belts, it said. One posting discusses how to introduce ricin, a deadly poison, into water reservoirs in the U.S.
The investigation appears to have started in January after Facebook security told the FBI that there was a “Wisconsin-based user posting detailed instructions on how to make explosive vest bombs in support of ISIS,” the affidavit states. The person behind the Facebook posts, who the FBI said they determined was Dais, “also appeared to be engaged in detailed question and answer sessions discussing substances used to make bombs.”
The affidavit also said she collects information on the “best explosives and biological weapons techniques in order to pass this information onto would-be ISIS attackers.”
Agents determined that Dais hacked numerous Facebook accounts from unwitting victims and changed the profile picture, friends list and display name, the affidavit said.
The Facebook picture used on some of the hacked accounts was of a young girl wearing a blue dress, the FBI said, adding that the picture was taken “as part of a series documenting Yazidi, a minority population in northern Iraq, fleeing their hometown to escape violence caused by the Islamic State militants.”
Prosecutors in Milwaukee have charged other terrorism-related cases in recent years.
Samy Hamzeh was arrested in January 2016 and charged with plotting to kill 30 people at a Masonic center in Milwaukee to “defend Islam.” Hamzeh’s attorney has said that his client was entrapped by FBI informants. A trial is set for August. A trial has been delayed several times as defense attorneys have tackled a mountain of evidence including lengthy recordings.
RELATED: FBI: 2 men wanted to join ISIS
In October, two men were charged in federal court with trying to join ISIS. Jason Michael Ludke and Yosvany Padilla-Conde were charged with attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization after a series of online conversations with an undercover FBI employee in which they professed allegiance to the Islamic State. They are due back in court later this month.
Last June, a man was charged in state court with making a bomb threat. When security officials at the federal courthouse asked Mohamad T. Hamdan for identification, he began yelling “Ji-ha” and “Malakum” and “Allah.” Hamdan was found not guilty by reason of mental defect and was ordered into treatment.
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