Teen Accused of Providing Gift Cards To Who He Thought Was Supporter of Terror Group

BOSTON (AP) — An 18-year-old Massachusetts man sent gift cards worth a total of $1,670 to someone he thought was a supporter of the Islamic State terror group that he intended to be used to fund a war on nonbelievers, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Mateo Ventura, of Wakefield, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Worcester later Thursday on a charge of knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.

Ventura wanted the gift cards to be sold on the dark web for slightly less than face value with the resulting proceeds to be used to support the Islamic State group, prosecutors said.

Between August 2020 and August 2021, Ventura provided about 25 cards with a total face value of $965 to someone he thought was an Islamic State group sympathizer but was actually an undercover FBI agent, according to an FBI affidavit included in court documents. Ventura was still a juvenile at the time.

He provided another $705 in gift cards after turning 18 between January and May, authorities said.

The cards ranged in value from $10 to $100.

Ventura, using an online encrypted messaging application, also expressed a desire to travel overseas and fight with the Islamic State group, according to the affidavit. He even went so far as to buy an airline ticket to Cairo in April, but he never departed and he did not reschedule or cancel his flight, the affidavit says.

Ventura also pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State caliphate and offered to disclose information about future terror attacks to the FBI in exchange for $10 million, according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Ventura faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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