When 15 to 20 FBI agents gathered early Thursday morning at the Hunte Pet Company parking lot, people wondered what was going on.
A couple of hours later, the agents arrested Safya Roe Yassin, 38, Buffalo, and she was later charged with communicating threats of violence over the Internet. Federal investigators said Yassin made a post on Twitter in August with the names, cities and phone numbers of two FBI agents, with the words “Wanted to Kill.”
She also allegedly made threats against government officials and members of the military, recommending that many needed to be beheaded.
Stacie Lane, special agent for the FBI, wrote a 17-page affidavit outlining a criminal complaint against Yassin, who had moved to Buffalo from Bolivar a few months earlier.
In the affidavit, Lane stated that on Aug. 24, 2015, Yassin tweeted a link containing photographs, addresses, other contact information and even credit-card information of United States service men and women and State Department employees. She also allegedly said that a media personality “would be better off without her head.”
Lane reported that Yassin tweeted a list of town of residence and phone numbers of approximately 150 U.S. Air Force personnel with the following quote: “Rejoice, O supporters of the Caliphate State, with the dissemination of the information to be delivered to lone wolves ... God said: ‘And slay them wherever you may come upon them.’”
The FBI agent pointed out that it is against the law to transmit in interstate or foreign commerce “any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another.” Also, the law prohibits aiding, abetting, counseling, commanding, inducing or procuring the commission of an offense against the United States.
The FBI first identified Yassin through a complaint call on Jan. 30, 2015, from a person who had befriended Yassin on Facebook several years ago. According to the complainant, Yassin was nonthreatening at first, but later Yassin was convinced that ISIL is going to save the world and was trying to rally support for the radical Islamist organization.
According to the affidavit, Yassin told the complainant that he/she would go to hell if he/she did not divorce his/her non-Muslim spouse and get rid of his/her non-Muslim friends. Yassin also allegedly told the complainant that he/she would go to hell for his/her beliefs in God.
The complainant said that although Yassin’s beliefs are disturbing, she has not directly advocated violence to the complainant.
On May 29, 2015, Yassin allegedly made a Twitter post referencing a “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II,” which was scheduled to take place in Phoenix that night. The posts stated the following: “They are only getting bolder because no one was killed at their last event, but if it goes the other way ...” and “They have courage now, but if a backpack was left at the scene with nothing in it, you would have a stampede. lol.”
In an interview with two FBI agents in June 2015, Yassin stated that she is not pro-ISIL, does not intend to travel to Iraq or Syria, would never encourage anyone else to do so, and has never sent financial support to ISIL. She said she simply reports the news, and she advised she would be willing to answer any further questions, the report said.
Later, the original complainant reported that Yassin believes she is seeing the end of times and wonders if ISIL is the end-times army described in Islamic prophecy.
The complainant also said Yassin said she knew he/she was the one who “snitched” on her, and that Yassin was going to expose the complainant to Muslims everywhere.
At one time Yassin reportedly had more than 90 Twitter accounts, and Twitter later suspended the accounts for violating the company’s terms of service. On Feb. 5 of this year, Twitter suspended more than 125,000 accounts that it deemed to be extremist.
On June 23 Yassin allegedly posted a message that said, “Twitter suspends thousands of Muslim accounts in 48 hours. Billions being spent to silence Muslims on Twitter, trolls trolling day and night. Then ... everyone comes right back within 2 minutes.
“They’re very proud of themselves, they really felt like they won some battle on the frontlines. Meanwhile, everyone is back within a few minutes. Honestly, this increases Twitter’s “worth” temporarily because it shows an increased number of new users.”
On July 18, 2015, according to the FBI, Yassin stated, “Americans aren’t even smart enough to know where to cut on a neck.” This was followed by a picture of a torso and neck with a superimposed dotted line around the base of the neck with the superimposed words “cut here.” Below the dotted line, written on the torso, is a superimposed word in Arabic. Those directly involved in this investigation recognized the Arabic word to be the spelling of the word “kuffar,” which means non-Muslim.
On July 29 Yassin allegedly posted a photo along with the text #Soon. The photo is an altered version of a popular photo. The original photo comes from the film, “North by Northwest” and depicts Cary Grant running in a field from an airplane. The version in the tweet had replaced Grant’s face with President Obama’s face and had replaced the airplane with a military drone.