National News

Feds: Ex-inmate with ISIS flag tattoo arrested in gun sting

Posted August 31

— An ex-convict arrested Thursday on a gun charge became a supporter of the Islamic state group radicalized during his incarceration and wanted to join the organization overseas, according to an FBI affidavit.

Twenty-eight-year-old Casey Spain's support of the Islamic State group was such that he had the ISIS flag tattooed on his back, to go along with the "Cop Killa" tattoo he already had on his right cheek, according to the affidavit from FBI agent Heather Brown.

The charges announced Thursday in federal court in Richmond, though, do not include any terror-related counts. Instead, he is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to Brown's affidavit, undercover informants who were incarcerated with Spain reported that he pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The informants also reported that Spain wanted to travel overseas to engage in violent jihad on behalf of the Islamic State. If he couldn't travel overseas, he was willing to commit violent acts inside the United States, according to the informants.

As a result, the FBI kept him under surveillance after his release from prison earlier this month, after he served a seven-year sentence for abduction with intent to defile.

Undercover informants who met Spain after his release said he frequently expressed his desire to travel overseas to join the Islamic State, as well as a desire to obtain a gun.

He was arrested Thursday after prosecutors say he tried to buy a gun in an FBI sting. The affidavit indicates authorities moved quickly to initiate a sting after learning that Spain might be attempting to buy a gun on his own, and had told an undercover informant he would be willing to shoot and kill any officers who came to arrest him.

According to the affidavit, Spain met with an undercover FBI informant Thursday morning at his home outside Richmond. When Spain took possession of the weapon, which had been rendered inert, a SWAT team moved in to arrest him, according to the affidavit.

Spain ran and jumped a fence in an effort to evade arrest before being chased down and taken into custody, according to the affidavit.

Spain made an initial appearance Thursday afternoon at the Richmond federal courthouse, where the public defender's office was appointed to represent him. The public defender's office declined to comment.

Since 2014, more than 130 people have been charged in the U.S. with crimes related to the Islamic State, according to the George Washington University Project on Extremism. But the number of ISIS-related cases has dropped dramatically in recent months. In a speech this week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the number of Americans trying to travel to join the Islamic State has slowed from six to ten per month two years ago, to maybe one a month now.

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