The Justice Department has charged at least 60 individuals this year with terrorism-related crimes, an unprecedented number that officials attribute to a heightened threat from the Islamic State and the influence of social media on potential recruits.
Last week alone, prosecutors charged three people and convicted two others on terrorism-linked charges. One of those charged was Enrique Marquez Jr., a friend and neighbor of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male gunman who was killed in a firefight with police in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting rampage this month. That terrorist attack killed 14 people.
A second was Mohamed Elshinawy, a Maryland man accused of receiving at least $8,700 from the Islamic State overseas and planning to use the money to carry out attacks in the United States. He told prosecutors that a childhood friend had connected him through social media with an Islamic State operative.
The third was Jalil Aziz, a Pennsylvania man who was arrested for allegedly providing material support to the Islamic State, by spreading its propaganda on social media and for seeking to help the group’s supporters travel to Syria to fight. Aziz also encouraged other Islamic State supporters he communicated with to use U.S.-based encrypted messaging applications, prosecutors said.