Rochester, N.Y., man charged with trying to help Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Rochester, New York, man has been indicted on charges of trying to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group and attempting to murder U.S. soldiers, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

A federal grand jury in Rochester handed down a seven-count indictment against Mufid Elfgeeh, 30, following an investigation by the FBI's Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force, a Justice Department statement said.

According to court records, Elfgeeh, beginning last year, tried to help three people - two of whom were cooperating with the FBI - to travel to Syria to fight for Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria.

"Elfgeeh also plotted to shoot and kill members of the United States military who had returned from Iraq," authorities said. "As part of the plan to kill soldiers, Elfgeeh purchased two handguns equipped with firearm silencers and ammunition from a confidential source."

The FBI made the guns inoperable before the confidential source gave them to the suspect, the Justice Department statement said, adding Elfgeeh was in custody.

"With today's indictment of Mufid Elfgeeh, the government demonstrates that it will use all available tools to disrupt and defeat ISIS,” William Hochul, U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, said in the statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

President Barack Obama is seeking to build an international coalition to fight the militant group.

The three charges of material support to Islamic State each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and the attempted murder charge carries up to a 20-year sentence.

The suspect also faces charges for possession of firearms and silencers.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Ken Wills)