SEATTLE — Federal agents arrested a 20-year-old from Seattle at Sea-Tac International Airport on Friday. Elvin Hunter Bgorn Williams is accused of trying to join ISIS.
Court documents say he wanted to become an “executioner” or “machinegunner” with ISIS, or carry out an attack at home.
Prosecutors said in the court filings that he was also trying to make plans to attack the Seattle Pride Parade.
Williams was about to board a flight to Cairo, Egypt via Amsterdam when agents in the FBI Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested him around 1:30 p.m. just before Memorial Day Weekend.
Abass Golfrey, assistant special agent in charge with FBI Seattle, said Williams first hit their radar in 2017.
Court documents say school administrators reported him after he said he wanted to join ISIS, and called the deadly ISIS attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester “justified.” Golfrey declined to say what school.
Golfrey said since then, Williams became more extreme.
“He self-radicalized and converted to Islam and started going to the mosque,” Golfrey said.
He said a Seattle mosque tried to deradicalize Williams and provide him mentorship.
“But along the line, he reverted back to his old radicalized ways. We think most of it was as a result of watching those ISIS propaganda videos,” Golfrey said. “So it’s like somebody sitting right next to them, telling them ‘kill, kill, kill,’” he said.
He said elders at the mosque reported Williams to the FBI in November of 2020.
Through confidential sources, the FBI obtained photos Williams posted, some shared with people who he thought were ISIS recruits.
Talked with @FBISeattle today about Elvin H.B. Williams, 20— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 2, 2021
- He self-radicalized
- Wanted to become ISIS "executioner" or attack at home
- Tried making plans to target Seattle Pride Parade
- Local mosque alerted FBI
- Arrested 5/28 at SEA airport heading for Egypt pic.twitter.com/aRXHmTVAqR
Court documents show Williams repeatedly said he wanted to go overseas to fight for ISIS.
“Williams explained that he would prefer to conduct an attack overseas, but would instead conduct an attack in the United States if he is not allowed to travel abroad. Williams opined that he would be able to kill more people if he goes overseas, as compared to a local attack that would only kill around 20 people,” the complaint said.
But in April, he unsuccessfully tried to convince a friend to plan an attack on the Seattle Pride Parade.
According to the documents, Williams allegedly said:
Williams: “Come on do it with me. Let’s go f____g do the gay pride parade in downtown Seattle.” It’s one of the biggest pride parades in the United States. Plus, after COVID hits, there is going to be tons of people wanting to go to the gay pride parade.”
Williams: “If we get a semi-truck, we can drive all the way through the parade and not have to stop once... Then we can get out and shoot (laughs).”
But then in May, Williams got a passport and booked a flight to Cairo, Egypt though Amsterdam and Paris.
Just as he was about to board a flight out of SEA Airport, agents arrested him at the gate.
“He had clearly stated that if he was unable to travel overseas to engage in fighting on behalf of ISIS, he would have conducted an attack here. And we were able to stop that,” Golfrey said.
Golfrey added that home-grown violent extremism is one of the FBI’s biggest challenges and said they rely on people reporting red flags when they see something wrong.
The charge Williams is facing is attempting to “provide material support” – in this case, himself - to a foreign terrorist organization.
He is currently in custody at the federal detention center in Tacoma. If convicted, he could serve up to 20 years.
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