Wisconsin woman taught bomb-making online for Daesh

Waheba Issa Dais, above, provided instructions on making a poison called ricin through the hacked Facebook pages. (Reuters)
Updated 23 April 2019

Wisconsin woman taught bomb-making online for Daesh

  • The woman provided her expertise on bombs and biological weapons
  • She faces a sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000

A Wisconsin woman used hacked Facebook accounts to provide lessons in making bombs and poison on behalf of the Daesh militant group, prosecutors said Monday.
Waheba Issa Dais, 46, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty to one count of “attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, a designated foreign terrorist organization,” the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a release.
Her support in 2018 took the form of providing expert advice on the Internet on bombs and biological weapons in order to help Daesh, officials said.
“Remember Boston Marathon bombing?” prosecutors said she posted to an undercover F.B.I. agent on Facebook. “It was very easy to make. All it needs is a pressure cooker, shrapnel and explosives. Join my channel and research.”
They said she also gave instructions on how to make the poison ricin, derived from castor beans.
US Attorney Matthew Krueger said in a statement that “From her home in Cudahy, Dais promoted ISIS’s hateful, violent agenda and provided detailed instructions on how to harm innocent people.”
Dais faces a sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, officials said, and is set to go before a judge in September for sentencing.
Her attorney, John Campion, told the New York Times that he and his client, “look forward to the September sentencing hearing where we will address the complicated history that led to her online conduct.”
Her attorney was not immediately available to Reuters early Tuesday.
In a separate case, prosecutors announced the conviction of Yosvany Padilla-Conde, a Cuban national who was residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for attempting to provide material support to Daesh.
In a release from the US Attorney’s Office, prosecutors said Padilla-Conde made videos swearing his allegiance to the group and stated his intent to travel to the Middle East. He also faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Craig Powell, an attorney for Padilla-Conde, told the Times that his client was set up by an undercover F.B.I. agent who offered to help him travel to Mexico if he made an Daesh video.
Padilla-Conde’s attorney could not immediately be reached by Reuters early Tuesday. His sentencing hearing is set for August, officials said.


Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects ‘made-up’ report

Updated 20 min 16 sec ago

Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects ‘made-up’ report

  • Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting Shenzhen on August 8
  • Beijing confirmed they detained an employee of a British consulate

BEIJING: The family of a staffer at the UK consulate in Hong Kong have rejected a “made-up” report by Chinese state media that he was detained in the mainland for visiting prostitutes.
Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting the city of Shenzhen from the semi-autonomous city on August 8, and the Foreign Office in London said both British officials and relatives have been unable to speak to him since.
The Global Times, a tabloid state-run newspaper, said he had been detained for “soliciting prostitutes,” citing police in Shenzhen, which lies on the China-Hong Kong border.
But a Facebook page run by Cheng’s family dismissed the report.
“This is a made-up crime of soliciting prostitution, everyone should see it’s a joke,” the comment said.
Beijing confirmed Wednesday an employee of the British consulate had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by police in Shenzhen for breaking a public security law.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
According to the Global Times, Cheng could be detained for up to 15 days and fined up to 5,000 yuan ($700) for the alleged crime.
In an editorial on Friday, the tabloid said it was at Cheng’s request that police did not contact his family and that “thanks to the British foreign ministry and media, which have been hyping it, the case is now fully exposed.”
Cheng was in the process of returning via high-speed train on August 8 and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
He has not been seen or heard from since.
The family said it had hired a lawyer in Shenzhen who had been unable to find or speak to the detained consulate employee.
Police in Shenzhen did not reply to AFP’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said in a statement Thursday that it was continuing “to urgently seek further information about Simon’s case.”
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997 — including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary — but protesters say these rights are being eroded.
Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the border since the protests, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the demonstrations.
Beijing has faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats, and for accusing dissidents or activists of sex crimes.