Federal investigators filed a complaint last week alleging two men intended to attack locations around the country, including the New York Stock Exchange and Trump Tower in Manhattan, on behalf of ISIS.
The FBI identified Jaylyn Molina and Kristopher Matthews, from Texas and South Carolina respectively, face charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to a quarter of a million dollars.
Detailed in a 14-page criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, the investigators allege Molina and Matthews engaged in encrypted communication for several months discussing anti-American sentiment and detailing specific plans to coordinate attacks in the U.S.
Molina and Matthews used encrypted chat groups to "promote radical Islamic ideology and to communicate, to share information, and discuss conducting terrorist attacks in the united states and overseas on behalf of ISIS," the complaint says. Between a six-month period this year, FBI covert employees and confidential sources monitored the group, they say in the complaint.
Each pledged their allegiance to ISIS in videos shared through online communication, the complaint says. In postings expanded upon in the court documents both men write about traveling to Syria to fight for ISIS.
The pair is also accused of using various social media platforms to recruit and radicalize other people to join ISIS. Included in Molina's online postings, the investigators say, the accused spread propaganda. In May, the FBI says he wrote. "until he is able to meet his brothers on the battlefield to fight in the cause of Allah, he will be in the 'belly of the best,' continuing to raise awareness and attempt to awaken brother by reminding them of jihad."
Discussions between the duo seemed to intensify in May as they planned attacks using explosives and firearms. Through their encrypted communications, the FBI says Matthews identified sites such as the stock market, CIA, FBI, and DEA headquarters as places "to send a message."
Molina pointed to larger locations like state buildings, social security buildings, the stock market or Trump Tower in New York, the White House and Washington, D.C., the documents say.
"We need to stick together, we need to defeat them, we need to take a lot of casualties," Molina allegedly wrote.
Among their online communications, federal investigators say specific documents were shared detailing plans to build improvised explosive devices and suicide belts.
Molina and Matthews were both taken into custody and are due back in court early next week. Their attorney declined to comment.