A Charlotte man accused of recruiting domestic terrorists for a radical Islamic group will remained jail on bond until his transfer to face charges in Cleveland, Ohio.
During his detention hearing Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Charlotte, Erick Jamal Hendricks wept as his attorney attempted to poke holes in the prosecutor’s allegations that 35-year-old Arkansas native recruited for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Afterward, his mother described him as a “patriotic” citizen facing trumped-up charges because he is a converted Muslim.
Charlotte attorney Andy Culler urged U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer to release Hendricks pending his next court appearance in Ohio, where the government said Hendricks’ online recruitment of potential ISIS converts took place.
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Culler, though, argued for 35 minutes that the government lacked probable cause for the case, and that an FBI affidavit cited by federal prosecutors as grounds for Hendricks’ continued confinement lacked facts and was based on statements from paid informants, some of them with criminal records.
If Hendricks was such a threat to the public, why did the government wait so long to arrest him, Culler asked the judge. “They looked in on him for more than a year, and he’s a threat?”
Cayer, without explanation, ordered that Hendricks remain in custody. His next court hearing will be in Cleveland.
Outside the courtroom, Hendricks’ mother, Lisa Woods of Little Rock, Ark., said the charges against her son are unfounded. She says he has been under surveillance since 2009 and cooperated with the FBI for a time. Woods said her son converted to Islam when he was 16 and serving a 100-day sentence for a probation violation in Arkansas. But she said he has never expressed any support for ISIS.
She said he has been singled out because of his religion. “He is a successful African-American Muslim. I feel that why it happened, and the rest of them better be ready for it.”
Woods described her son as a “patriotic child.”
Hendricks was a longtime resident of Columbia, S.C., who had lived in Charlotte for less than a month before his arrest.
In the FBI affidavit, the government accuses Hendricks of using social media networks to contact and recruit Americans for the cause of the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS and ISIL, federal authorities said, and he appeared to have ties to a 2015 attack at a Texas event mocking pictures of the prophet Muhammad.