LAKE WORTH, Fla. (WSVN) — Federal authorities have arrested three Palm Beach County men, including a popular local artist, for allegedly conspiring and attempting to support the Islamic State.
In a statement released on Friday, the Justice Department confirmed the arrests of 52-year-old Gregory Hubbard, 50-year-old Darren Jackson and 31-year-old Dayne Christian.
FBI agents working through a confidential informant said Hubbard, who used the name “Jibreel,” along with Christian, known as “Shakur,” and Jackson, who called himself “Daoud,” have been charged with “knowingly conspiring and attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIL.”
According to court documents, Hubbard, a well-regarded artist in Palm Beach County, “expressed his desire to travel to Syria and join ISIL for the purpose in engaging in violent jihad. The documents further state, “Hubbard has also regularly vocalized his support for the killing of non-Muslim hostages, as depicted in beheading videos.”
Investigators said Hubbard and Christian used the term “soccer team” and “playing soccer” to describe jihadists and terrorist acts. They said the suspects also defended the San Bernardino and Fort Hood attacks, and called the Pulse Nightclub shooting a bonus because gay people were killed. In addition, authorities said, the suspects rejoiced at news of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France that killed 84 people.
The trio, investigators said, plotted to join ISIS themselves. According to court documents, Jackson “agreed to provide his AK-47 style assault rifles as well as instruction on how to shoot them.”
According to the FBI, Hubbard and Christian planned to fly out to Berlin, Germany. From there, officials said, they would take a train to Istanbul, Turkey and then make their way to Syria.
Court documents stated that Jackson would not be traveling overseas, but that “he wished he could go to Syria with them.”
Federal agents met Hubbard at Miami International Airport, July 21, and arrested him as he attempted to board a flight to Berlin, Germany. They also apprehended Jackson after he dropped off Hubbard at the airport. Christian, a Lake Park resident, was later arrested at his job.
Speaking on the phone with 7News, a friend of Hubbard defended the artist. “He’s one of the most incredibly talented artists I’ve ever known,” she said.
The friend said she’s still trying to grapple with the news of Hubbard’s arrest. “I’ve never seen anything but kindness and congeniality from him,” she said.
Investigators said Christian, who has a criminal background, was also planning to travel to Syria, but Jackson had only agreed to take them to the airport.
A detention hearing has been set for Wednesday, and the defendants will be arraigned on Aug. 5. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.
As for Hubbard’s friend, she hopes he will receive a fair trial. “I just hope that he is innocent until proven guilty,” she said.
If you would like to read the arrest affidavit, click here.
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