nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ahmad (E.D. Va. Dec. 2, 2011) (guilty plea in LET material support case involving youtube video)

December 2, 2011

A very interesting material support case in that the conduct at issue was the creation and uploading to Youtube of an LeT propaganda video. From the press release:

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – Jubair Ahmad, 24, a native of Pakistan and resident of Woodbridge, Va., pleaded guilty today to providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III.

Ahmad faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on April 13, 2012.

LeT, or “Army of the Pure,” serves as the military arm of the political movement Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad in Pakistan. The mission of LeT is to conduct and promote violent jihad against those considered to be the enemies of Islam. On Dec. 24, 2001, the U.S. Department of State designated LeT as a foreign terrorist organization. The focus of LeT operations has been attacks on the neighboring country of India, in particular the disputed region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India.

According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Ahmad was born and raised in Pakistan and in 2007, after receiving a visa from the U.S. Department of State, Ahmad moved from Pakistan to the United States with his family.

Ahmad admitted today that in September 2010, while at his residence in Woodbridge, he engaged in a series of communications with an individual named Talha Saeed, who was in Pakistan. Talha Saeed is the son of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of LeT. Talha Saeed requested Ahmad to prepare a video that would contain a prayer by Hafiz Saeed calling for the support of jihad and the mujahideen. In addition, Talha Saeed instructed Ahmad to present a variety of violent images on the video while Hafiz Saeed’s prayer is heard in the background.

Talha Saeed directed Ahmad to begin the LeT video with a number of pictures of Hafiz Saeed, then show scenes where atrocities have been inflicted on Muslims, followed by the activities of the mujahideen conducting attacks in Kashmir. At one point, Ahmad asked Talha Saeed if he wanted to include an image of the Mumbai attack to show the power of LeT. This is a reference to LeT’s operation against the city of Mumbai, India, on Nov. 26, 2008, which resulted in the death of over 160 people, including six Americans. Talha replied that he should not use anything referring to Mumbai.

Ahmad admitted that Talha Saeed told him to search for “Lashkar-e-Taiba” on YouTube to find additional images of mujahideen operations to include in the video. Talha Saeed further stated that the video will be popular in Pakistan and will run continuously on significant media programs and presentations.

On Sept. 25, 2010, Ahmad completed the LeT video and uploaded it to a YouTube account on the Internet. The next day, Ahmad sent a communication to another person overseas in which he explained that “Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed” had requested him to prepare the video. Forensic examination by the FBI subsequently confirmed that Ahmad had constructed the LeT video on his computer.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Campbell from the National Security and International Crimes Unit of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney John T. Gibbs from the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division in the U.S. Department of Justice are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Yusuf (S.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2011) (guilty plea in al Shabaab material support case)

December 1, 2011

United States v. Yusuf (S.D. Cal. Dec. 1, 2011) (guilty plea in al Shabaab material support case)

DOJ’s press release, describing the guilty plea in this material support to al-Shabaab case, appears below. I would note, though, that it is an interesting exercise to ask how this case would have played out had sections 1031 and 1032 of the Senate NDAA bill, currently under debate, been in force.

Section 1032, the “mandatory detention” provision, could not apply to Yusuf if she were a US citizen…but if I’m not mistaken she is instead a lawful permanent resident, and hence would be subject to that provision if she comes within its substantive scope. Would she?

Well, 1032 applies to persons determined to

(i) be part of al Qaeda or associated forces (thus requiring an analysis of

(a) whether al-Shabaab at this point counts as an associated force of al Qaeda, a position the Obama Administration has not yet embraced so far as I know and

(b) whether Yusuf’s conduct amounts to becoming part of al-Shabaab…support alone not being sufficient under 1032)); and

(ii) have participated in a planned or actual attack or attempted attack on the US or its coalition partners (thus requiring an analysis of whether

(a) the Somali transitional government, or maybe the African Union force in Mogadishu, or maybe Kenyan or Ethiopian forces in the area, count as “coalition forces” and

(b) the allegation of a plot to go abroad to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab counts as a plot to attack those coalition forces).

So, in short, hard to say as to 1032.

Would she at least be subject to the possibility of military detention, under 1031? The answer is more likely yes, but still not dispositive. 1031 does not require involvement in a particular plot, so that problem is avoided. And it encompasses both members and non-member supporters, and the allegation here does sound in “support.” The question, then, is simply whether al-Shabaab is an associated force of al Qaeda.

In any event, here’s the press release about the actual plea agreement:

SAN DIEGO – Nima Yusuf, 25, a resident of San Diego, pleaded guilty today in federal court in San Diego to conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy announced. Yusuf entered her plea before Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks, and the plea is subject to final acceptance by U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz at or before sentencing.

As part of her plea, Yusuf admitted that she entered into an agreement with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, Abdisalan Hussein Ali, Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax and Abdiweili Yassin Isse to provide material support to al-Shabaab in the form of money and personnel to work under the direction and control of al-Shabaab. Yusuf admitted that she entered this agreement despite knowing that the United States had designated al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization and that it was illegal to provide money or other material support to al-Shabaab.

Hassan, Ali, Faarax and Isse are charged separately in a federal grand jury indictment in Minnesota for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, among other offenses. The Minnesota indictment also charges Faarax with solicitation to commit a crime of violence, based on his alleged recruitment of three other men to travel to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, one of whom is believed to have carried out a suicide bombing on al-Shabaab’s behalf in or about October 2008.

As part of her guilty plea, Yusuf admitted that she knew Hassan, Ali, Faarax and Isse had left the United States to join and fight for al-Shabaab in Somalia. She admitted that, between approximately February 2010 and November 2010, she sent approximately $1,450 to these men, who were then fighting in Somalia for al-Shabaab. She also admitted that, when she was twice interviewed by agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security concerning her activities, she falsely denied sending any money to Somalia.

Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization based in Somalia, with objectives including the overthrow of the Transitional Federal Government, the elimination of African Union support for the TFG and the imposition of Shari’a law in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has engaged in and used violence, intimidation and acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, in Somalia and elsewhere to further its objectives.

Yusuf is next scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on Feb. 10, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz in San Diego. She remains held without bail pending sentencing. She faces a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This investigation was conducted by the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI.


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