WEST OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The ABC7 News I-Team's Dan Noyes learned Thursday night that prosecutors were about to charge Amer Sinan Alhaggagi. The 22-year-old lived in West Oakland and federal officials say he was active online promoting ISIS rhetoric.
Federal agents say they had him under surveillance for months when he was arrested last November. He has been in custody ever since.
FBI agents and the Joint-Terrorism Task Force took him into custody after watching him accept merchandise they say he purchased with a stolen credit card.
RELATED: U.S. Department of Justice releases statement on Alhaggagi
But the terrorism charges were just unsealed Friday. Court records from Dec. reveal startling details about the case. Federal investigators say Alhaggagi spent significant lengths of time in Yemen and that he met with undercover agents on multiple occasions to plan a potential terrorist attack.
Officials say he also made statements about fleeing to Mexico.
COURT DOCUMENT: Federal indictment for Amer Sinan Alhaggagi
The charges he's facing could send him to prison for more than 20 years.
They say he was very young and immature when he got involved in those online conversations and they don't think he intended any harm. His next court appearance has not been scheduled.
The Alhaggagi family released a statement that reads: We were shocked to learn of the accusations involving Amer. Amer is not and has never been radicalized in any way. He grew up in this country and loves it here. He is peaceful and kind. He was very young and immature when he got involved in the online conversations that are the basis for these accusations. He did not think those conversations were serious and he never had any intent to harm anyone. We love him and continue to fully support him.
Alhaggagi's lawyer Mary McNamara released a statement on behalf of her client: Amer is not anti-American and does not support ISIS or any other terrorist organization. He is completely nonviolent, and he took no actions to harm anyone. The evidence we have suggests these charges are based on internet chat conversations that he had with a number of unknown people. Amer is a very young and naive man, and it appears he allowed himself to be drawn into conversations that he should have been far more suspicious of.
These two documents provide more information on Alhaggagi's cases.
Alhaggagi Arrested for Aggravated Identity Theft
The Criminal Complaint, filed on November 28th, 2016, contains the government's allegations that led to the arrest of Amer Sinan Al-Haggagi on Aggravated Identity Theft charges. In November of 2016, FBI agents and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force say they saw a UPS truck driver deliver a large box to Al Haggagi's apartment in West Oakland. The feds had been surveilling the 22-year old West Oakland man for nearly four months. The package was shipped to the terrorism suspect from Chicago-based Trunk Club-an online shopping service. The agents watched as Al-Haggagi unloaded the contents of the box into the trunk of a car. The government says the box contained clothes, rucksacks and backpacks and the merchandise inside that box was valued at $4,932. Prosecutors say Al Haggagi purchased the contents with a stolen credit card using a fictitious name. Al-Haggagi was arrested and charged with Aggravated Identity Theft.
Click here to read the document in it's entirety.
Alhaggagi Ordered Detained
The Order of Detention filed on December 20th, 2016 is the judge's decision to keep Amer Al Haggagi in custody. The court relied on the government's arguments and evidence they say shows he may be a danger to the community and a risk of flight. The government says Al Haggagi has made frequent trips to Yemen and has met with undercover agents on multiple occasions to plan a potential terrorist attack. In response to evidence presented by federal prosecutors, the judge writes she is concerned about "the nature of the alleged terrorism-related conduct". As a result the defendant was ordered to remain in custody on the identity theft charges.
Click here to read the document in its entirety.
West Oakland man indicted on terrorism charges after allegedly promoting ISIS rhetoric online