ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle) — Through the 140 characters allowed on Twitter, Mufid Elfgeeh spelled out again and again his ideological hatred toward the United States, federal authorities allege.
In one tweet, he announced his allegiance with al-Qaeda, writing, "al-Qaeda said it loud and clear; we are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the earth and the people," authorities say.
Other tweets encouraged the donation of money for jihadists, and, while advocating martyrdom, Elfgeeh claimed al-Qaeda and jihadists are the world's true Muslims.
On Saturday afternoon, FBI agents and members of the agency's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Elfgeeh in the parking lot of a Walmart in Rochester, N.Y. They allege that he'd planned to buy firearms and he wanted to use them to kill returning American troops as well as Shiite Muslims living in the Rochester area.
Elfgeeh, 30, is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen who managed a convenience store in Rochester.
Elfgeeh is charged with two counts of illegally receiving and possessing unregistered firearm silencers, but the investigation is continuing, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. said at a news conference Monday.
Hochul said Elfgeeh faces 10 years in prison for each silencer and the possibility of a $250,000 fine.
At the Walmart, Elfgeeh met with an FBI informant who provided him firearms and silencers, according to an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Albert Zenner.
A swarm of law enforcement officials arrested Elfgeeh as shoppers wandered in and out of the store. The weapons the informant gave Elfgeeh had been rendered inoperable beforehand, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Harvey, a prosecutor in the case.
"At no time was there a risk to the public this weekend," said FBI Special Agent Brian Boetig, who heads the agency's western New York region, about the large show of force for the arrest.
At an appearance in federal court Monday, Elfgeeh was appointed lawyers from the Federal Public Defender's Office. A bail hearing is scheduled for June 16.
Federal prosecutors have requested that Elfgeeh stay jailed pending trial.
According to the affidavit from Zenner, the FBI has been investigating Elfgeeh since early 2013 with the help of confidential informants.
In early 2013, an individual who occasionally worked as an informant for the FBI "first reported information about Elfgeeh."
The informant, records show, has helped the FBI since around 2000. He has been paid about $21,700 by the agency, and the FBI assisted him in receiving visas for family members.
A second informant, who also has been paid by the FBI, began a series of conversations with Elfgeeh in late 2013. Those broad talks about terrorism in the Middle East and American politics morphed into Elfgeeh's stated intent to do harm to Americans, authorities allege.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya, Elfgeeh told the second informant that, "I'm thinking about just go buy a big automatic gun from off the street ... and just put on a vest or whatever and just go around and start shooting," the affidavit states.
Elfgeeh indicated he already had a bulletproof vest.
Elfgeeh discussed buying weapons from that informant, saying "I don't have ... no plan whatsoever," the affidavit alleges. He said he wanted weapons "for personal use."
He also allegedly said he would "try to do as much as we could before we get, get captured," and that he wanted to do video messages after the attacks.
In March, Elfgeeh apparently narrowed his plans to killing returning soldiers, authorities allege. He noted how a French-Algerian man had killed three French military members.
Elfgeeh told the informant, who had indicated he could buy him firearms, that he could figure out who returning military members were from online searches.
Negotiations over possible weapons purchases continued into April and May. The conversations were recorded. Elfgeeh also inquired about prices for hand grenades, "the type that one would throw at someone as you are driving a car."
On Saturday, the FBI gave the informant a "Walther PPK .32-caliber handgun with a functional silencer affixed to the barrel, a Glock 26, 9mm handgun with a functional silencer affixed to the barrel, two boxes of .32-caliber ammunition, and two boxes of 9mm ammunition," the affidavit states.
The informant gave Elfgeeh the box carrying the weapons in the Walmart lot, moments before the arrest.
After the arrest, police and FBI agents executed a search warrant at Elfgeeh's home and a convenience store, MoJoe's, that he runs. The store, decorated in candy stripe red and white, advertises pizza, chicken and groceries, and fronts the residence where Elfgeeh lived.
Neighbors said agents searched the store and house for two hours or more Saturday evening.
Contributing: The Associated Press