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Phoenix-area man with alleged ties to Islamic State group pleads not guilty

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area man who has been linked to the Islamic State group after allegedly pulling a knife on a Maricopa County Sheriff’s sergeant pleaded not guilty.

Ismail Hamed, 18, pleaded not guilty to two terrorism-related charges and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Thursday, Superior Court spokesman Vincent Funari said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM. 

Hamed was accused of providing “advice, assistance or direction in the conduct, financing or management of a terrorist organization,” identified as the Islamic State group, and “(engaging) in an act of terrorism” on Jan. 7, the same day he allegedly threatened the sergeant. He also faced one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The Fountain Hills resident was shot and injured by the sergeant, identified only as a 12-year sheriff’s office veteran, after the incident outside of a substation near Palisades and Saguaro boulevards.

FBI officials called Hamed a “homegrown violent extremist” and alleged that he planned the attack on the sergeant to further the Islamic State group’s ideology, according to ABC15.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Hamed, during a 911 call before showing up at the Fountain Hills substation, “made some statements…to indicate that he had an affiliation with a terror ideology.” He also threw rocks at the sergeant before allegedly pulling the knife.

Authorities have not clarified Hamed’s ties to the terrorist group, but Penzone said during a press conference earlier this month that he had been radicalizing for a while and that it was a “lone wolf” attack.

Hamed was initially charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He is the seventh person in Arizona to be charged with ties to the Islamic State group since 2014, the television station reported.

Hamed will appear in court next on March 8.

The shooting was the first MCSO-involved incident of 2019. There have been four more officer-involved shootings in the Phoenix area so far this year.

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