MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin woman hacked social media accounts, including on Facebook, to recruit on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group and to provide instruction on such terrorism basics as making explosives and biological weapons, authorities say.
Waheba Issa Dais of Cudahy, a 45-year-old mother of two, is in federal custody after being charged with providing "material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization," according to a federal criminal complaint. She appeared before a federal magistrate Wednesday and is scheduled to return to court Friday to determine bail.
Dais "helped facilitate planning for attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS and overseas by providing instructions on how to make explosives, biological weapons and suicide vests," according to an FBI affidavit used to support the criminal complaint.
In addition, the affidavit said, she "provided detailed instructions to people interested in attacks and attack planning. Dais has also expressed a personal desire to travel overseas in support of ISIS."
Dais, a native of Jerusalem, was allowed to come to the U.S. in 1992 without a passport because of her marriage to a U.S. citizen. The couple divorced in 2003, according to court records. She is now a lawful permanent resident who the FBI believes does not work outside the home.
"The Department of Justice's top priority is to prevent terrorism and ensure national security," U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said.
According to the affidavit, Dais pledged her allegiance to the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS. She has hacked various social media accounts, posting fake names and photos, to promote ISIS and provide information on launching terrorist attacks using explosive belts, it said. One posting discusses how to introduce ricin, a deadly poison, into water reservoirs in the U.S.
The investigation appears to have started in January after Facebook security told the FBI that there was a "Wisconsin-based user posting detailed instructions on how to make explosive vest bombs in support of ISIS," the affidavit states. The person behind the Facebook posts, who the FBI said they determined was Dais, "also appeared to be engaged in detailed question and answer sessions discussing substances used to make bombs."
The affidavit also said she collects information on the "best explosives and biological weapons techniques in order to pass this information onto would-be ISIS attackers."
Agents determined that Dais hacked numerous Facebook accounts from unwitting victims and changed the profile pictures, friends list and display names, the affidavit said.
The Facebook picture used on some of the hacked accounts was of a young girl wearing a blue dress, the FBI said, adding that the picture was taken "as part of a series documenting Yazidi, a minority population in northern Iraq, fleeing their hometown to escape violence caused by the Islamic State militants."