Did an alleged Chicago gang leader graduate from the drug game to ISIS?
Federal authorities say the alleged leader of a Chicago area gang known for drug trafficking who appeared before a judge on Thursday in a detention hearing, provided material support to the terrorist group ISIS. Now officials are pinpointing how he went from street dealing to becoming involved with international terrorism.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Jason Brown, 37, who also used the name Abdul Ja’Me, provided $500 in cash on three separate occasions this year to an individual, believing it would be wired to a purported ISIS operative who was fighting in Syria. A video recording allegedly shows him in the act. However, Brown did not realize the person he gave the money to was working with law enforcement and the ISIS soldier, in reality, was an undercover agent.
Brown, who lives in Lombard, Ill., was taken into federal custody on Nov. 14 and charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, according to the Department of Justice.
The complaint says Brown is the leader of the AHK gang, which traffics in narcotics in suburban Chicago and is a compilation of various Chicago gang members with long histories including the Black P Stones, Gangster Disciples, and Four Corner Hustlers. Although it is not clear if there are Islamic fundamentalists in their ranks, many of the AHK gang members are said to practice the Muslim faith.
The name AHK, is actually a variation on the Arabic word “ahk,” which means “brother” and Brown required that all members convert to Islam if they were not already Muslim. According to the complaint charges, Brown was radicalized while serving time in prison for a previous conviction in 2016 by watching the lectures of Shaikh Abdullah Faisal, a Muslim cleric. Abdullah Faisal was jailed in 2003 and served time in the United Kingdom for soliciting murder and attempting to foster racial hatred through his speeches. He was later arrested in Jamaica for allegedly trying to recruit Jihad soldiers. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States.
Brown, according to the charges, used his influence and leadership to recruit and radicalize members to support the terrorist organization. He later planned to travel to Syria to become part of ISIS.
“I’m fixing to make hijrah (migration) over there. I’m not gonna tell nobody. Because Shaikh [Faisal] tell ya though, don’t tell nobody,” he said according to the affidavit. We plan on leaving. We plan on doing this,” said Brown.
“ISIS has manipulated its ideology to appeal to people with criminal backgrounds,” Bennett Clifford, a research fellow at the Program on Extremism at the George Washington University told CNN.
“This is one of the notable areas where the Islamic State has been able to recruit.”
Brown entered no plea in U.S. District Court, before Judge Sunil Harjani, according to CNN. His attorney, Nicholas Grapsas, declined comment
On Thursday, several AHK members were also charged on federal drug charges after search warrants were executed in several locations on Chicago’s West Side. Substances like fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine were found. Chicago has been long plagued by drug markets on the West and South sides and officials believe that it has helped to fuel the runaway violence in its streets in recent years.