Benjamin Carpenter Arrested for Providing Material Support to ISIS, His Attorney Says He’s Just a Nerd.

By Faye Higbee

On March 24, 2021, Benjamin Alan Carpenter, aka Abu Hamza, was arrested for attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS after a Federal grand jury returned an indictment. His attorney claims he’s just a ned who lives in his mother’s basement. But there is much more to know abotu this “nerd.”

Benjamin Alan Carpenter, also known as “Abu Hamza,” 31, was arrested on March 24, 2021, in Knoxville following the return of a federal grand jury indictment charging him with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  A detention hearing was held today, April 5, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra C. Poplin.  Carpenter remains detained pending the outcome of the detention hearing.  Carpenter’s trial is set for June 1, 2021, before United States District Judge Katherine A. Crytzer.

Carpenter is a United States citizen who resides in Knoxville.  According to documents filed with the Court, Carpenter is the leader of Ahlut-Tawhid Publications, an international organization dedicated to the translation and publication of pro-ISIS and official ISIS media in English.  Carpenter was also in contact with an individual who he believed was associated with ISIS; however, unbeknownst to Carpenter, the individual was a covert FBI employee.  Carpenter provided English-language translations of ISIS media content to that individual for use by ISIS.

Dept of Justice

Carpenter faces up to 20 years in prison, and as of April 5, remained in custody. But in arguing for his client, the defense attorney called him “part nerd, part loser, but hardly a danger in need of pretrial detention.” He stated that because the man lives in his mother’s basement, has no bank account, no car, and walks pets for a living, he’s no threat at all. Judge Polin’s decision on whether to release him or keep in detained is expected soon.

Is he just a nerd who lives with his mother? Not by a long shot. It was his translation of some of the violent ISIS material that flagged him to authorities.

He’s grown more radicalized and popular among terrorist leaders seeking to recruit American Muslims, Arrowood said.

The media company he founded produces videos and newsletters promoting terrorist causes, idolizing terrorist leaders as celebrities and treating beheadings as justice, prosecutors said.

…The charge arises from his activities sometime at the end of January and early February, an unsealed indictment states. The newspaper reported that he translated a violent ISIS training video.


The FBI said they’ve known about Carpenter since 2015, and that he’s “evolved over time.” He is fluent in Arabic and reportedly has communicated with ISIS members via computer. He has not traveled to meet with any of them, but his work as a translator of their material has been on the radar for some time. He is also on the no fly list. Prosecutors claim he has a plan to flee, while his attorney tries to paint him as a nerdy loser. He may well be a loser, but he’s been making friends of some folks who are definitely dangerous to this nation.


Featured photo: Justice Department

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