04.27.2022 | 12:00 PM | IRVINE – A former United States Marine was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he attempted to support two different terrorist groups, according to newly filed court documents.
Jason Fong, 24, of Irvine, was charged with four counts of knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources to Hamas and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham between Mar. 17 and May 18, 2020.
The indictment alleges that Fong, also known as “asian_ghazi” and “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hakim,” attempted to provide money and fundraising for Hamas while he compiled “weapons training materials” and information regarding the production of chemical weapons, boobytraps and improvised explosive devices to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
Both groups are designated foreign terrorist organizations and Fong knew as much, the indictment alleges.
Fong, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps assigned as a “Avionics Maintenance Technician,” was arrested in a raid by heavily armed FBI SWAT operators shortly after he left his Irvine home on May 20, 2020.
At the time Fong was charged with 10 felony counts relating to possession of an “assault rifle” and nine “large-capacity” magazines.
Not long after Fong his arrest was also charged in federal court with concealing the provision of material support and resources to Hamas.
During lengthy litigation regarding his release, details regarding the underlying charges and investigation were fleshed out in open court.
Those details indicated that Fong allegedly communicated in group chats on platforms like Instagram and Signal where he corresponded with supposedly like-minded individuals and provided information about how to make improvised explosive devices, chemical weapons, along with “tactical information on entering buildings.”
In one instance a 15-year-old stated he was planning on blowing up an air force base. And while the government claims Fong immediately provided the minor with so-called “tactical information,” his defense has countered that Fond did not endorse those plans.
Fong reportedly responded to the minor’s statement by stating that “[p]lanning an attack is not needed and not thoughtful.”
Rather than support terrorism, Fong’s defense has asserted he kicked people out of the group chats that “he thought were radicals.”
Other comments were taken out of context or the result of prodding by government operatives who made direct requests to engage in criminal activity, his attorney said.
“I wanna learn how to make an IED,” one of the operatives reportedly asked in one chat.
As for his alleged financing and support of terror organizations, Fong simply shared a link to a website where individuals could donate. He thought the organization supported humanitarian efforts that supported Palestinian’s, his attorney claimed.
Fong is currently released on a $300,000 secured bond with numerous conditions amounting to house arrest. He is expected to appear to respond to the indictment on May 23. A trial in the case was previously set for Oct. 25, 2022.
A state court case against Fong charging him with possession of nine “large capacity magazines” and an “assault rifle” was dismissed on May 2, 2022 during a preliminary hearing.