WAKEFIELD, MA – The FBI has charged a Wakefield, MA teenager with knowingly attempting to contribute to ISIS after a lengthy online investigation involving undercover FBI agents. Mateo Ventura, 18, of Wakefield, MA was held without bail on Thursday pending a preliminary hearing. His father claims the teen is a patriotic American with developmental disabilities and is simply being “railroaded” by the FBI.
The investigation began in 2021 when Ventura began communicating with an undercover FBI agent via an encrypted messaging app. Through these communications Ventura allegedly pledged his allegiance to the terror-organization, made offers to carry out operations for ISIS, and tried to contribute financially to ISIS via gift cards.
On August 3, 2021, Ventura expressed his desire to provide financial support to the terror-organization ISIS and his desire to travel to the middle east to join the terrorist group in person. In one statement, Ventura claimed he would be willing to “carry out shaheed operation if wanted” meaning he would be willing to become a Martyr and die for ISIS.
On August 4, 2021, the FBI complaints alleges that Ventura sent the undercover FBI agent an audio message, pledging allegiance to ISIS and ISIS’s leader at the time, Abuu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurash.
On August 5, 2021, the undercover FBI agent asked Ventura if he would be willing to contribute to ISIS financially by making donations. It was at this time that Ventura sent the agent a $25 Google Gift Card with the purpose of ISIS selling it on the dark web to contribute to the terror-organization.
Between August 2021 and August 2022, while Ventura was a juvenile, the FBI alleges that the undercover agent received a total of 26 Gift Cards from Ventura, for a total of approximately $965.
Beginning in January of 2023, Ventura attempted again to support ISIS by sending several more gift cards to the undercover FBI agent across several months, again with the purpose of ISIS selling them on the dark web for profits to support the organization.
Between August 2022 and August 2023, while Ventura was an adult, the undercover FBI agent received an additional 16 gift cards, totaling approximately another $705, with a grand total of $1670.
Between April 10 and April 20, 2023, Ventura contacted the FBI directly. He claimed at the time to have vital information regarding upcoming terrorist attacks to be carried out in Egypt by ISIS. For this information, Ventura demanded $10,000,000 USD as well as immunity from the US government. The FBI responded to Ventura stating that his information provided was not sufficient to be acted upon. Ventura responded to this in anger by demanding the FBI never contact him again.
Ventura was arrested by the FBI and first appeared in Federal Court on Thursday, October 12, 2023. The US Attorney’s office and the prosecutor of the case requested that Ventura be held without bail, claiming that he poses a danger. The judge concluded the arraignment by holding him until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday, October 18, 2023.