Heather Elizabeth Coffman appears to be a convert to Islam, although that is not stated in this article. Thus she becomes just the latest in a long string of examples of the fact that Muslim leaders in the U.S. are either unable or unwilling to teach converts why they should avoid this understanding of Islam that Muslims in the U.S. ostensibly reject.
“Virginia woman is accused of attempting to support Islamic State,” by Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, November 17, 2014:
Federal authorities have arrested and charged a Henrico County woman who they say wrote Facebook posts supportive of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham and offered to help someone join up with the terrorist group in Syria, court documents show.
Heather Elizabeth Coffman, 29, is charged with making a false statement regarding an offense involving international or domestic terrorism. Coffman, it seems, was caught in a sting and unknowingly offered to help an undercover FBI agent connect someone with ISIS in Syria, according to a federal affidavit. Authorities say she lied to investigators who were looking into her support for ISIS.
The case seems to be another example of the Islamic State’s robust presence on social media and the influence it is having on Americans. Only two months ago, a 19-year-old from suburban Denver pleaded guilty to trying to help the terrorist organization after she tried to board a flight to get to Turkey. She reportedly was trying to connect with a man she met online. And last month, three other teenaged girls from the Denver area were detained at the airport in Germany and questioned for possibly trying to join ISIS. A school official said they were victims of an “online predator.”
It is unclear what inspired Coffman’s interest in ISIS, or whether she possessed the means to connect anyone with the group.
Mark Henry Schmidt, Coffman’s defense attorney, said the young woman was born and raised in the U.S., lived with her parents and cared for her 7-year-old child. He said that he was unaware of any tangible, foreign connection, and at first blush, the case seemed to him one of “Facebook going badly.”
“As far as I know she hasn’t traveled anywhere. Her connections with the outside world would be on the Internet,” Schmidt said. “I imagine you can get into trouble on the Internet, but I imagine you can also think a lot more’s going on than really is. If nothing else, this is certainly a cautionary tale about the Internet.”
According to the FBI affidavit, Coffman told an undercover agent that she had previously arranged for a man she termed her “husband” to travel to Turkey so he could meet with ISIS facilitators and eventually make his way into Syria. She described “concrete steps” she had taken to achieve that end, according to the affidavit. But Coffman and the man soon separated, and he backed out of the plan, according to the affidavit.
The FBI’s investigation of Coffman seemed to begin in April, as agents took note of her pro-ISIS postings on Facebook and sought search warrants to access her various accounts. On June 23, for example, Coffman posted two images with the text, “WE ARE ALL ISIS, ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ & SHAM,” according to the affidavit. On June 28, when someone asked why Coffman was posting in favor of the terrorist group, she responded, “I love ISIS!” according to the affidavit.
Coffman later wrote about persuading her sister to develop an interest in the group and said, “My dad is a little angry because I got her into all this jihad stuff,” according to the affidavit. A woman who identified herself as Coffman’s mother declined to comment Monday.
Good for dad.
An FBI agent posing as someone with views similar to Coffman’s made contact with her in July and, some months later, told her about an associate who wanted to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS, according to the affidavit. Coffman offered to help the associate connect with an ISIS facilitator and even claimed to be able to verify the facilitator’s legitimacy, according to the affidavit….