Edward Schimenti of the Chicago suburb of Zion, Illinois, wants you to know that he’s “just a big teddy bear”: he said so during his sentencing hearing on Friday, when he got thirteen and a half years for aiding the Islamic State (ISIS) and joined the long and ever-lengthening list of converts to Islam who turn to terrorism, even in the United States, and are largely ignored by the establishment media, which as everyone knows or should know by now, is interested only in shoring up its narrative, not in reporting actual facts.
According to the Justice Department, “evidence at trial revealed that Schimenti advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group. In 2015, Schimenti began meeting with undercover FBI employees and individuals who, unbeknownst to Schimenti, were cooperating with law enforcement. During the meetings, Schimenti discussed his devotion to ISIS and his commitment to ISIS principles.”
When it came to ISIS, Schimenti was a true believer, writing: “Islamic State will control your country, matter of fact, Islam will dominate the world!!” AP noted that Schimenti’s Google Plus profile showed “a masked man holding a knife and standing alongside an IS flag. A caption reads in capital letters that if you can’t travel abroad to fight, ‘then slaughter the pagans next to you.’”
Schimenti didn’t just talk. The Justice Department explained that two FBI informants met with Schimenti, posing as ISIS operatives. After initially being suspicious enough to leave a meeting abruptly, Schimenti fell for the ruse: “In 2017, Schimenti furnished cellular phones to one of the cooperating individuals, believing the phones would be used to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks overseas. On April 7, 2017, Schimenti drove with the cooperating individual to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, with the understanding that the cooperating individual would be traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS.” As he saw the man he thought was his comrade, Schimenti told him to “drench that land with they, they blood.” On another occasion, he declared: “I want to see blood flowing, either way.”
Previously, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Schimenti helped the informant get into fighting shape at a gym, prosecutors said. There, they said Schimenti said he hoped to be the one to ‘cut the neck’ of non-believers.” And the Chicago Tribune reported in March that “although the charges do not allege the two participated in any violence, Schimenti talked with the informant about future plans to attack Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, a short distance from his home.”
Also in April 2017, Schimenti went to Illinois Beach Park in Zion with another convert to Islam, Joseph D. Jones. They took with them an Islamic State flag, and once at the park, they posed for photos while holding it, to the alarm of passersby. There turned out to be quite a bit to be alarmed about. In the course of the investigation of the two men, it came to light that Schimenti had threatened a gay man with Sharia punishments, telling him that once Islamic law came to the United States, “We are putting you (homosexuals) on top of Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) and we drop you.”
Aw, what a sweet ol’ teddy bear. Schimenti may not, however, have been completely trying to deceive the judge in hopes of getting a lighter sentence. He may really be the gentle soul he claims to be. In planning to cut the necks of unbelievers, he believed he was fulfilling the command of Allah: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (Qur’an 47:4). Arising out of his piety and desire to be pleasing to his deity, his bloodlust could have been a fulfillment of a religious duty, not arising out of a heart inclined to hatred and violence. The Qur’an itself even envisions this possibility when it says: “Fighting is prescribed for you, though you dislike it.” (2:216) Schimenti, that lovable lug, may have really disliked it, but he disliked angering Allah even more.
This raises a question that has come up many times before, but has still never been answered: why do so many converts to Islam come to hate their own country? Nor are Schimenti and Jones by any means the first American converts to Islam to try to join ISIS. In January 2021, Cole James Bridges, another convert to Islam who was a U.S. Army soldier, was arrested over a jihad plot to bomb U.S. troops and commit a jihad massacre at the 9/11 Memorial. Also in January, the Justice Department announced that Texas resident Jaylyn Christopher Molina, “aka Abdur Rahim, admitted to conspiring to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Syria (ISIS).”
There are many, many other such cases. Another recent one was reported in the Miami Herald on December 8, 2020: a Cuban-born convert to Islam in south Florida, Jonathan Guerra Blanco, was arrested and charged with providing material support to ISIS. According to the FBI, Guerra produced propaganda videos and guides in order to “incite and equip primarily Spanish-speaking followers to conduct operational attacks in support of ISIS.” Guerra “produced and distributed an ISIS video titled ‘Called to Islam’ that featured a Spanish-language video ‘threatening non-believers to convert to Islam.’ Among the video footage were shots of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and the Las Vegas Strip, along with clips of a suicide bomber’s farewell address and a prisoner execution.” Guerra said that he wanted to “make the word of Allah…the highest,” and added: “I always strive to please Allah. I don’t want to brag, but I dedicate my life to [jihad].”
Even big teddy bears have been known to do that.