BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A 20-year-old New Jersey man is facing serious charges after the feds say he threatened to shoot pro-Israel supporters and attempted to donate money to a terrorist organization.
Jonathan Xie, 20, was living in Basking Ridge with his parents. Neighbors told CBS2’s Alice Gainer he was attending community college.
Web Extra: Read The Complaint (.pdf)
Federal authorities say he was also busy online, trying to send money to Hamas and threatening to shoot everyone at a pro-Israel march.
They say he also made threats to blow up Trump Tower.
Tuesday afternoon, investigators went in and out of the home where Xie lives.
Screenshots attached to the criminal complaint against him allegedly depict him showing someone online how to donate to terrorist organization Hamas, claiming he had donated $100 to them.
What he didn’t know is he was talking to an undercover FBI agent.
Federal authorities say he was arrested Wednesday for that and also lying on his application to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he allegedly said online that he wanted to “learn how to kill.” He’s also accused of making a threat against a pro-Israel march in an Instagram live video while wearing a black ski mask and showing off a Hamas flag and gun registered to his parents, saying “I want to shoot the pro-Israel demonstrators.”
Neighbors are floored by his arrest.
“I know him. They don’t look like that. I’m so shocked,” one neighbor told Gainer.
“We just say hi to each other, but I think that’s a very nice family. We talk sometimes,” said another neighbor.
Most told Gainer they don’t really know them.
“I never saw them out much. I know all the other people,” one neighbor said.
This afternoon, a woman identified as Xie’s aunt didn’t comment as she brought his younger brother to get clothes from the home.
“Homegrown violent extremists like Xie are a serious threat to national security,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “The actions that he took and planned to take made that threat both clear and present, and we commend our law enforcement partners for working closely with us to stop him before he could carry out his plans to commit violence on American soil. We will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard our country and its citizens from the threat of terrorism, whether that threat comes from abroad or — as here — from within.”
Prosecutors said the FBI observed Xie outside of Trump Tower back on April 20. Shortly thereafter, Xie posted two photos to his Instagram account: One with the words “I want to bomb Trump Tower” imposed over the building image and the other with the words “[S]hould I bomb Trump Tower,” a “Yes/No” poll, and an emoji of a bomb imposed over the Trump Tower building image.
Authorities allege Xie posted on Instagram, “Okay, so I went to NYC today and passed by Trump Tower and then I started laughing hysterically. … [expletive] I forgot to visit the Israeli embassy in NYC . … I want to bomb this place along with Trump Tower.”
“The FBI remains vigilant in its efforts to protect the public from those who support terrorist groups and ideologies,” Special Agent in Charge Ehrie said. “Thanks to the hard work and determination of our agents and their law enforcement partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, this defendant’s further support to terrorism was disrupted and a threat to the safety of our community was averted. This case also illustrates the value of public awareness and participation. When you report suspicious activity, you become a force multiplier in the mission to keep America safe.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)