A New York City woman who communicated with ISIS supporters under the pseudonym “Umm Nutella” is facing prison for helping the terror group and hindering an FBI probe, according to newly unsealed court documents.
Sinmyah Amera Ceasar, 24, could be sentenced to up to life behind bars when a federal court judge in the Eastern District of New York decides her fate Tuesday or Wednesday.
Ceasar was trying to leave the country in November 2016 when she was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on charges of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group, federal prosecutors say.
The suspect later admitted to providing ISIS supporters with the contact information of active members of the terror group who could help them travel to ISIS-controlled territory overseas. Ceasar also connected a U.S.-based ISIS supporter with an overseas member who encouraged the individual to conduct an attack on American soil, the court papers say.
Ceasar acted as a "committed recruiter and self described 'assistant' to the terrorist group, connecting ISIS supporters in the United States to ISIS facilitators and operatives abroad," federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memo.
"The defendant also expressed her own desire to travel to ISIS-controlled territory and join the group and die as a martyr."
Ceasar, who was born in New Jersey but was living in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government in February 2017.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
But she didn't hold up her end of the bargain, prosecutors say.
Ceasar was released from a federal detention center in Manhattan for medical reasons under the conditions that she abstain from using social media and that she not contact anyone with links to a foreign terrorist group.
But Ceasar went right back to communicating with people whom she had previously identified to the FBI as being ISIS and Taliban supporters, according to the court documents.
"[T]he fbi put me under a different name because they wanted my case too be sealed from the country etc,” Ceasar wrote to a U.S.-based Taliban supporter via Facebook in June 2018, prosecutors say. "They didn’t want to charge me under my name so I can go back to my daily life after telling the information they want.”
Ceasar also allegedly exchanged Facebook messages with a person who she told the FBI was associated with United Kingdom-based ISIS supporters linked to terrorist attacks.
"Be very careful as to who you trust on here especially if they send you any links that maybe incriminating,” the individual posted in June 2018, according to the court papers.
Ceasar responded on the person's Facebook page. "Yea that's true that how I went to prison because some the Muslims were spies :(” she wrote, according to prosecutors.
Ceasar subsequently deleted those messages and others in an attempt to prevent the FBI from finding out that she had violated the cooperation agreement, prosecutors say.
In interviews with the FBI, she denied ever identifying herself to anyone as "Umm Nutella" following her release from jail.
But Facebook records show that she did, in fact, use the nom de guerre based on the brand name of the popular hazelnut cocoa spread.
"I'm umm nutella" and "I’m staying on down low,” she wrote to someone whom she had previously identified as a jihadist supporter, the court documents say. "Not going to go to prison for nobody anymore.”
Federal prosecutors described her use — and denial — of the name "Umm Nutella" as significant.
Ceasar told federal investigators that she "associates her use of the name 'Umm Nutella' with her support for ISIS, and that if she used the name, it would signify her continued support for the group," according to the newly unsealed court documents.
Prosecutors filed an additional charge of obstruction of justice, and Ceasar was remanded to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.
It was not clear how she came up with the unusual pseudonym. Ceasar's lawyer did not return a request for comment.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Rich Schapiro is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.