According to recently unsealed audio tapes an Oakland man who is facing federal criminal charges, including attempting to support a terrorism organization was planning on attacking gay bars in San Francisco.
21-year-old Amer Sinan Alhaggagi was already in custody after being arrested in November 2016 facing a single charge of aggravated identity theft.
But prosecutors were building a case against Alhaggagi based on electronic communication and a face-to-face meeting with an undercover FBI agent in which he relayed plans for multiple attacks.
The communication started in late July 2016, Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Waqar Hasib said at the hearing in December, when Alhaggagi was trading messages with an unidentified FBI source about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — known as ISIS .
Several of Alhaggagi’s alleged communications identified San Francisco .
Hasib quoted from one of the messages: ” ‘I live close to San Francisco. That’s like the gay capital of the world. I’m going to handle them right. LOL, ’m going to place a bomb in a gay club. … I’m going to tear up the city. … The whole Bay Area is going to be up in flames. “
He told the FBI source that he had access to equipment “to make the cards and checks,” according to the prosecution at the December detention hearing. “I’m trying to make bombs. I’m going to need funds.”
Alhaggagi allegedly told the FBI’s source that he planned to work for a local police department and steal weapons. Agents started canvassing Bay Area police departments.
“They learned that Mr. Alhaggagi had submitted an application to the Oakland Police Department,” just a few days earlier, Hasib said.
The source introduced Alhaggagi to an undercover agent posing as an al-Qaida-trained fighter.
“His plan was to blow up a car bomb at an unidentified gay nightclub in San Francisco and then place backpack bombs around the East Bay,” Hasib said. “He also took the undercover around the UC Berkeley campus and identified buildings, including dorms, where he wanted to plant backpack bombs.”
Alhaggagi’s attorney, Mary McNamara, who took over his defense in March, paints a different picture from the evidence presented at the detention hearing.
“What is clear from that hearing is that Mr. Al Haggagi ran away when he believed that things had gone beyond talk with the undercover agent,” McNamara wrote in a statement to KQED on Monday. “Mr. Al Haggagi never re-engaged with him and never took any steps to commit any violent act. Unlike most of the cases charged under this statute, Mr. Al Haggagi is not radicalized, is not a supporter of ISIS or any terrorist network. He is a peaceful, sociable and well-liked person. He is also young and naïve. It appears that he allowed himself to be drawn into conversations that he should have been far more suspicious of.”