Hawazen Sameer Mothafar

Hawazen Sameer Mothafar is a propagandist for ISIS. A legal permanent resident of the United States, Mothafar produced and distributed material on pro-ISIS media sites detailing how to use explosives and wield knives.Natalie O’Neill, “Portland man accused of creating, distributing ISIS propaganda online,” New York Post, November 6, 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/11/06/portland-man-accused-of-creating-disturbing-isis-propaganda/.

Allegedly an ISIS supporter since 2014, Mothafar pledged allegiance to ISIS in February 2019.“Oregon man accused of producing ISIS propaganda arrested,” Associated Press, November 6, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/oregon-man-accused-producing-isis-propaganda-arrested-74063124. Starting in February 2015, Mothafar allegedly edited, produced, and distributed articles for the pro-ISIS media site Al Dura’a al Sunni (also known as Sunni Shield) that publishes a newspaper called Al-Anfal. Mothafar published over 32 issues of Al-Anfal that included several articles with titles such as “Effective Stabbing Techniques” and “How Does a Detonator Work.”Natalie O’Neill, “Portland man accused of creating, distributing ISIS propaganda online,” New York Post, November 6, 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/11/06/portland-man-accused-of-creating-disturbing-isis-propaganda/.

One article, published in Al-Anfal in June 2018, encouraged readers to carry out attacks in their home countries if they were unable to join ISIS abroad.Conrad Wilson, “Oregon resident charged with aiding ISIS,” KLCC, November 5, 2020, https://www.klcc.org/post/oregon-resident-charged-aiding-isis. According to a senior ISIS official who is currently in custody in Iraq, Mothafar had created a Facebook account for said official and also helped to open additional social media and email accounts for ISIS members.Maxine Bernstein, “Oregon man accused of producing, distributing propaganda in support of ISIS,” Oregon Live, November 5, 2020, https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2020/11/troutdale-man-accused-of-producing-distributing-propaganda-in-support-of-isis.html; Conrad Wilson, “Oregon resident charged with aiding ISIS,” KLCC, November 5, 2020, https://www.klcc.org/post/oregon-resident-charged-aiding-isis.

Mothafar allegedly shared more than 70 images of explosives and western cities with Sunni Sheild members, claiming “the images of destroyed infidel cities will be useful.”Maxine Bernstein, “Oregon man accused of producing, distributing propaganda in support of ISIS,” Oregon Live, November 5, 2020, https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2020/11/troutdale-man-accused-of-producing-distributing-propaganda-in-support-of-isis.html. Additionally, in December 2019, Mothafar attempted to get information on the piloting of a drone for Saleck Ould Cheikh Mohamedou—an Islamic extremist who was convicted and eventually incarcerated in Mauritania for attempting to assassinate Mauritania’s former president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.Trevor Boyer, “Oregon man is charged with working with ISIS over five years to create propaganda and training materials - but feds don't seek pre-trial detention because he has physical disabilities,” Daily Mail, November 6, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8922251/Oregon-man-charged-creating-propaganda-training-materials-ISIS-five-years.html.

On November 5, 2020, Mothafar was arrested by federal authorities in Oregon. A day later, Mothafar appeared in a Portland federal court via video conference where he pleaded not guilty to five charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization.“Oregon man accused of producing ISIS propaganda arrested,” Associated Press, November 6, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/oregon-man-accused-producing-isis-propaganda-arrested-74063124.

Mothafar, who has physical disabilities and is confined to a wheelchair, was not detained on the condition that he limit the use of electronic devices and stay in Oregon.“Portland-Area Resident Indicted for Providing Material Support to ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice, November 5,2020, https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/portland-area-resident-indicted-providing-material-support-isis. Mothafar is also accused of being a conduit of information from ISIS to Sunni Shield, as well as moderating Sunni Shield’s private social media chat rooms—one of which was called “Designers Workshop – Sunni Shield”—and creating a “bot” that would respond to inquiries, spread information and make user identities anonymous.Trevor Boyer, “Oregon man is charged with working with ISIS over five years to create propaganda and training materials - but feds don't seek pre-trial detention because he has physical disabilities,” Daily Mail, November 6, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8922251/Oregon-man-charged-creating-propaganda-training-materials-ISIS-five-years.html; Conrad Wilson, “Oregon resident charged with aiding ISIS,” KLCC, November 5, 2020, https://www.klcc.org/post/oregon-resident-charged-aiding-isis. Additionally, Mothafar faces a charge of lying on an immigration form, claiming he had never associated with any terrorist group.Trevor Boyer, “Oregon man is charged with working with ISIS over five years to create propaganda and training materials - but feds don't seek pre-trial detention because he has physical disabilities,” Daily Mail, November 6, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8922251/Oregon-man-charged-creating-propaganda-training-materials-ISIS-five-years.html. Each count of providing material support to a designated terrorist organization carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, with an additional maximum 25-year sentence if Mothafar facilitated an act of international terrorism.Maxine Bernstein, “Oregon man accused of producing, distributing propaganda in support of ISIS,” Oregon Live, November 5, 2020, https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/2020/11/troutdale-man-accused-of-producing-distributing-propaganda-in-support-of-isis.html.

A 20-day jury trial was scheduled for January 5, 2021 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marco Hernandez.Conrad Wilson, “Oregon resident charged with aiding ISIS,” KLCC, November 5, 2020, https://www.klcc.org/post/oregon-resident-charged-aiding-isis. However, the trial has been delayed until November 21, 2021.Andrew Selsky, “Citing complexities, judge delays Islamic State support case,” Associated Press, January 5, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/trials-islamic-state-group-media-classified-information-portland-6628401aa10b837664d6b1cd2407b1d7.

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