A Henrico County woman whose record appears to involve nothing more serious than occasional traffic law violations will appear in federal court this afternoon on a charge that she lied to federal agents about her alleged involvement in terrorist activities with ISIS.
Heather Elizabeth Coffman, who court records show resides in the 4300 block of Penick Road, is scheduled to undergo a detention hearing that could force her incarceration until her trial.
Coffman was arrested Nov. 14 based on a 14-page criminal complaint that summarizes a monthslong Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation of Coffman in which it is alleged she lied to federal agents about her efforts to arrange the secret transfer of an ISIS sympathizer to Syria through her contacts.
Much of the case stems from Coffman’s alleged Internet postings and meetings she held with a sympathetic federal undercover officer who allegedly obtained statements from Coffman that Coffman later denied.
She is charged with making false statements to a federal officer.
The case has attracted the attention of The Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead, who said it seems to mimic others in which individuals are first targeted through federal surveillance of their Internet postings and then persuaded to arrange covert, illegal activities through undercover federal agents.
“Be careful of anyone who suddenly shows up and wants to help with what you are doing,” Whitehead said Tuesday. He alleges thousands of people are acting on behalf of the federal government to infiltrate and further potentially illegal activities in order to entrap apparent supporters of foreign enemies.
“There’s a very strong issue here dealing with the First Amendment,” Whitehead said.