MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin mother of seven pleaded guilty Monday to trying to plan terrorist attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group by distributing information online on how to make explosives and biological weapons.
Waheba Issa Dais (dys) initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of providing material support to terrorists but prosecutors dropped one of the charges in exchange for her guilty plea.
Prosecutors say in court documents that Dais, 46, used hacked social media accounts to discuss possible attacks with self-proclaimed members of the IS. She also tried to recruit IS supporters to carry out attacks and provided them with information on making explosives and poisons, according to the documents.
Authorities never connected her to any attack plots, but U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger noted the seriousness of her actions, saying Dais put a lot of information online with instructions on how to harm people.
"Nobody will ever know what all she could've inspired," said Krueger, who serves in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
In the hacked social media accounts, the FBI said it found conversations where Dais discussed possible attacks with self-proclaimed IS members. In one case, she suggested using the deadly toxin ricin in a government building or a reservoir somewhere in the U.S., according to the FBI's report. In another instance, she suggested street festivals and summer celebrations as possible targets, the FBI said.
Dais was born in Jerusalem and was married to a U.S. citizen when she arrived in Chicago in 1992, according to the FBI. They divorced in 2003 and Dais remained in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. She was living in Cudahy, a city just south of Milwaukee.
Dais faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 12, although the plea agreement said her punishment could be more lenient because she accepted responsibility for her actions. However, the judge will ultimately decide the sentence.
Also Monday in a separate case, prosecutors announced that a Milwaukee man pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an attempt to provide material support to the IS. In that case, prosecutors said Yosvany Padilla-Conde, a Cuban national, made videos swearing allegiance to the IS and stating his intent to travel with another Wisconsin man to the Middle East.
Padilla-Conde thought he was sending the videos to an Islamic State recruiter, but it was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Padilla-Conde's co-conspirator, Jason Ludke, was convicted last year and is already incarcerated. Padilla-Conde faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 7.
"These cases demonstrate the continuing and evolving threat posed by foreign terrorist organizations," Krueger said.