A Massachusetts inmate at the Old Colony Correctional Center interested in becoming a “mujahideen” — the plural form of Jihad — was charged with threatening to kill the President, the Justice Department said this week.
Alex Hernandez, 31, of Worchester, was charged with two counts of threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States.
Last March, Hernandez told another inmate, who was cooperating with federal agents, he wanted to kill the President in a lone-wolf style attack because he was tired of the way people were being treated and would have access to weapons when released from prison, the Justice Department said. Hernandez also allegedly expressed an interest in obtaining false travel documents so he could flee the country after his attack.
Based on the allegations, agents decided to introduce Hernandez to an undercover agent posing as an embassy contact who could assist Hernandez with obtaining false travel documents.
In November 2015, at the direction of federal agents, the cooperating witness provided Hernandez with a mailing address for his embassy contact. In actuality, the mailing address was that of an undercover law enforcement post office box. From that point on, Hernandez allegedly wrote two letters to the embassy contact.
“I am writing to you now to ask that you come see me. I am a brother in faith, a martyr; and as a martyr I wish to fulfill Allah’s wishes and not to live among infidels. The mujahedeen movement is hard but pure. I need your help and I hope to meet you in person,” Hernandez stated in one letter.
Between Dec. 22 and Feb. 12, the undercover agent posing as the embassy contact met with Hernandez at Old Colony Correctional Center.
During the first meeting, Hernandez allegedly stated he wanted to attack “the house with the big people there.” The agent asked whether Hernandez meant the White House and Hernandez said he did.
When asked for additional details about his plan, Hernandez explained, “there is always a head. He’s the one who’s always in charge. So if you attack the head, everything will go down a little bit.” Hernandez went on to say that he wanted to learn how to shoot “like a sniper,” and that he had a contact in Florida that had a firearm ready for him.
He also stated that he was studying how to make explosives that could be placed around government buildings to “create chaos.”
During the second meeting with the undercover agent, Hernandez allegedly discussed the motivation for his planned attacks – telling the agent that his brothers are “fighting to uphold the laws and structure of the caliphate in the Middle East” and that “this government … is painting it like they are the bad guys.”
Hernandez also allegedly explained that he wanted to target the President because “he’s the one that gives the orders.”
The Justice Department said searches of Hernandez’s jail cell revealed several items of concern such as a document listing the former U.S. Presidents and containing the handwritten notation “kill” underneath all the U.S. Presidents that have been assassinated while in office, and images of the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, and members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant holding assault weapons and the ISIL flag.
If convicted, Hernandez faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.