|Facebook users have uploaded some 250 billion photos since the social network was first created, and upload another 350 million new ones each day. These pictures show what people are up to, let others see the delicious foods they’re eating, chart the progress of a baby growing up… and catch terrorists?On April 22, 24-year-old San Diego man Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati was charged with making false statements to federal officials in a terrorism investigation after Facebook photos, posts, and other evidence contradicted the statements he’d made to federal agents.
Saeed, a naturalized U.S. Citizen who was originally born in Syria, traveled from San Diego to Turkey in 2012. Once there, he spent his time in both Turkey and Syria, according to prosecutors. At the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, he told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other U.S. authorities that he hadn’t been involved in any fighting, had never fired his weapon at anyone, and didn’t know any Islamic State members.
He told another story, however, on Facebook.
According to court documents, Facebook pictures and conversations contradicted the information he’d given to federal officials. Saeed allegedly told associates that he’d fought with Al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate and designed foreign terrorist organization, in a four-month-long battle against the Assad regime.
In one of Saeed’s Facebook photos, he poses with a man whom federal officials say has sworn allegiance to ISIL. In another photo, Saeed and his brother pose in the spring of 2014, when he admitted to having open fired on a Syrian prison. In a Facebook chat from December 2013, Saeed allegedly wrote, “I work with the brothers.”
In another chat, he even allegedly bragged, “I am currently the media person for the Shari’ah Authority.”
Prosecutors say Saeed also claimed to having never worked or volunteered at a Sharia court, but a photo posted to Saeed’s Facebook page allegedly shows him wearing headphones provided to him in a Sharia court.
Once confronted with the evidence gleaned from Facebook, Saeed changed his story. While some of Saeed’s online statements may have been lies to boost his own image, Saeed has admitted to the FBI that he did, in fact, fight several times for Al-Nusra. Saeed has pleaded not guilty to the charges of false statements regarding terrorism.