Armed robbery for jihad comes to AmericaJune 2, 2013
Robbing banks to fund terrorism has been a technique used by radicals for decades in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Except for isolated incidents in the U.S., such heists haven’t normally been used by to finance domestic terrorism.
But if Erwin Antonio Rios had his way, outright theft for jihad would have come to American shores. The 19-year-old Muslim convert wanted to commit violent robberies and use the loot to buy weapons and travel overseas.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A 19-year-old from Fayetteville pled guilty to charges related to his plans for terrorist activities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Erwin Antonio Rios, 19, of Fayetteville, pled guilty Tuesday to a charge of possession of a stolen firearm. He was arrested in February.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Rios wanted to take the gun overseas to carry out what he called “jihad” on non-believers in Islam, U.S. forces included. The DOJ said Rios explained jihad as various forms of violence against those he determined to be non-believers. The DOJ characterized the intentions as terrorist activities.
In a press release, the DOJ wrote that Rios planned to fund his trip by committing violent robberies in North Carolina, leaving no witnesses alive.
“Erwin Rios intended to commit violent acts against innocent people in furtherance of his extremist doctrine of hate,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.