Rochester pizza shop owner allegedly helped recruit for ISIS

A criminal case against a Rochester man accused of plotting to murder returning troops will include "classified information" that cannot be disclosed for national security purposes, court papers show.

Attorneys in the case of Mufid Elfgeeh, arrested last year, agreed this month to an order that ensures some information cannot be made public. Under the order, there may be some information that Elfgeeh's lawyers cannot even share with him.

Mufid Elfgeeh

Mufid Elfgeeh

The order "ensures that only those with an appropriate national security clearance and a need to know may have access to the classified information that may be implicated in this case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Harvey wrote in a July 9 request for the order classifying some information in the criminal case.

The order was approved on July 9, and three documents have been filed under seal since then, records show.

Harvey said Friday that there is classified information that needed to be shared with defense lawyers, thus necessitating the order.

Federal authorities allege that Elfgeeh, who ran a pizza shop and supermarket on North Clinton Avenue, was trying to recruit individuals to fight for the Islamic State, the terrorist organization also known as ISIS.

Elfgeeh was apparently the first U.S. citizen accused of recruiting for ISIS. He was born in Yemen and is a naturalized citizen.

Prosecutors also say that he tried to buy guns and planned to kill returning military troops.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have declined to say whether they suspect Elfgeeh was part of a recruiting network or was acting alone, motivated by the propaganda of ISIS, which has proved adept at marketing itself through social media.

The "lone wolf" syndrome is growing particularly worrisome for authorities, as young men and women fall prey to jihadist websites and social media postings. They can be difficult to track because they are not part of larger networks that can be easier to detect and rupture.

On Thursday, a gunman killed four Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was killed in a gunfight with police. A "domestic terrorism" investigation, similar to that involving Elfgeeh, is now underway.

Through informants, the FBI realized that Elfgeeh could be dangerous. The informants, whom he allegedly tried to recruit and enlist for gun purchases, became key components in the FBI investigation, records detail.

Hours of conversation, surreptitiously recorded by informants and the FBI, have required translation, as have many social media postings from Elfgeeh. That work has slowed the criminal case, and pretrial motions are scheduled to be filed late this year.

Elfgeeh is not scheduled to return to court until February. His attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Mark Hosken, declined to comment.


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Published on by Marty M. Source.