nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Tajideen (D.D.C. Mar. 24, 2017) (extradition and IEEPA indictment of Lebanese businessman associated with Hezbollah)

March 24, 2017

I had not seen any terrorism-related IEEPA charges in some time (it’s been all 2339B and sometimes 2339A). Very interesting to see this one. Kassim Tajeddine is a significant figure in the global business network associated with Hezbollah, and he was subjected to IEEPA sanctions back in 2009. Last week he was detained by Moroccan authorities while transiting from Guinea to Beirut (see, e.g., https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/lebanese-businessman-wanted-by-us-detained-in-morocco/2017/03/16/dd71e53e-0a5d-11e7-bd19-fd3afa0f7e2a_story.html?utm_term=.73c67b971763), and now’s he’s on US soil and facing just-unsealed IEEPA and money-laundering charges. Press release is below:

WASHINGTON – Kassim Tajideen, a prominent financial supporter of the Hizballah terror organization, has been arrested and charged with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him because of his financial support of Hizballah.

Tajideen, 62, of Beirut, Lebanon, was arrested overseas on March 12, 2017, based on an 11-count indictment unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following his arrival to the United States. Tajideen made his initial court appearance today before Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather.

The arrest and indictment are the result of a two-year investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The effort is part of DEA’s Project Cassandra, which targets Hizballah’s global criminal support network – dubbed by the DEA as the Business Affairs Component (BAC) that operates as a logistics, procurement and financing arm for Hizaballah.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia, DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan of the Special Operations Division, and CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan made the announcement.

“Because of his support for Hizballah, a major international terrorist group, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kassim Tajideen in 2009 that barred him from doing business with U.S. individuals and companies,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Those sanctions are a powerful tool in our efforts to combat terrorists and those who would support them. Indeed, the sanctions posed such a significant threat to Tajideen’s extensive business interests that he allegedly went to great lengths to evade them by hiding his identity from the U.S. entities he did business with, and from the government agencies responsible for enforcing the sanctions. Thanks to the diligent work of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, we broke through the web of intermediaries Tajideen allegedly used to conceal his involvement, and he has been brought to the United States to face justice.”

“Kassim Tajideen is alleged to have willfully flouted U.S. sanctions that were based on his prior support for Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security McCord. “Those sanctions are designed to protect our national security and public safety by limiting terrorists’ access to resources, and this extradition sends a clear message that we are resolved to find and hold accountable those who violate these laws.”

“The investigation of this case and the arrest and extradition of this defendant demonstrates our commitment to enforcing vitally important sanctions laws that are in place to protect our national security and foreign policy interests,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “Because of the hard work of law enforcement here and abroad, Kassim Tajideen will now face charges in an American courtroom.”

“Kassim Tajideen posed a direct threat to safety and stability around the world,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Donovan. “A prominent money man for Hizballah, Tajideen acted as a key source of funds for their global terror network. DEA and our partners are unrelenting in our pursuit of the world’s most dangerous terror and criminal networks and their many facilitators who threaten the rule of law and innocent lives.”

The indictment charges Tajideen with one count of willfully conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, seven counts of unlawful transactions with a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The indictment also indicates that the government will seek a forfeiture money judgment against the defendants equal to the value of any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to these offenses.

According to the indictment, Tajideen allegedly presided over a multi-billion-dollar commodity distribution business that operates primarily in the Middle East and Africa through a web of vertically integrated companies, partnerships and trade names. The indictment further alleges that Tajideen and others engaged in an elaborate scheme to engage in business with U.S. companies while concealing Tajideen’s involvement in those transactions.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control named Tajideen a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on May 27, 2009. This designation prohibits U.S. companies from transacting unlicensed business with Tajideen or any companies which are operated for his benefit – in essence stripping Tajideen’s global business empire of its ability to legally acquire goods from, or wire money into, the U.S. However, the indictment alleges that Tajideen restructured his business empire after the designation in order to evade the sanctions and continue conducting transactions with U.S. entities. Tajideen and others are alleged to have created new trade names and to have misrepresented his ownership in certain entities in order to conceal Tajideen’s association. The scheme allowed Tajideen’s companies to continue to illegally transact business directly with unwitting U.S. vendors, as well as to continue utilizing the U.S. financial and freight transportation systems to conduct wire transfers and move shipping containers despite the sanctions against Tajideen.

According to the indictment, between approximately July of 2013 until the present day, the conspirators illegally completed at least 47 individual wire transfers, totaling over approximately $27 million, to parties in the U.S. During the same time period, the conspirators caused dozens of illegal shipments of goods to leave U.S. ports for the benefit of Tajideen, without obtaining the proper licenses from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Tajideen pleaded not guilty and was ordered held pending a detention hearing set for March 29.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

This investigation was carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the DEA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center Counter Network Division, with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas A. Gillice and Deborah Curtis and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline L. Barkett of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Joseph Palazzo from the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

Participating investigative agencies in DEA’s Project Cassandra include the DEA’s New Jersey Field Division and Special Operations Division and various DEA country offices, as well as the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Faris (S.D. Ill. Mar. 20, 2017) (DENATURALIZATION SUIT AGAINST CONVICTED AQ SUPPORTER)

March 20, 2017

Buckle up, folks, DOJ just filed a civil suit to revoke the citizenship of Iyman Faris (currently serving a 20 year sentence for providing material support to al Qaeda). See 8 USC 1451 for the operative statute. I have no idea how accurate this is, but there is a Wikipedia page here addressing past instances of revocation (107 since 1979, it says).

The complaint is attached, the press release is below:

Faris Complaint to Revoke Naturalization.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Harun (E.D.N.Y. May 16, 2017) (guilty verdict in prosecution of AQ member)

March 17, 2017

A pretty remarkable fact pattern in this one, and yet another successful DOJ prosecution of an al Qaeda member. Note that this one could easily have been in a military commission had Harun been captured by U.S. personnel or had he been transferred to US control in other circumstances, but since he was instead arrested in Italy—and since Italy almost certainly forbade resort to a commission as a condition of the extradition—he ended up in civilian court instead. Seems extremely likely he’ll get a life sentence.

From DOJ’s press release:

Washington – Today, a jury returned its verdict convicting al Qaeda operative Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, 46, of multiple terrorism offenses including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan and conspiracy to bomb the U.S. embassy in Nigeria. Harun traveled to Afghanistan in the weeks before Sept. 11, 2001 where he joined al Qaeda, trained at al Qaeda training camps and participated in attacks on U.S. and Coalition troops in Afghanistan in which two American service members were killed and others were seriously wounded in 2003. Harun also received training in explosives from an al Qaeda weapons expert and traveled from Pakistan to Nigeria intending to attack U.S. government facilities there.

The guilty verdict was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord for National Security, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD.

“Harun is an al Qaeda operative who targeted U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities across two continents. The evidence presented at trial established that the defendant and other jihadists attacked a U.S. military patrol in Afghanistan, resulting in the death of two American soldiers and the serious injury of others. Today’s guilty verdict ensures that the defendant will be held accountable for his acts of terrorism,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors whose hard work and dedication made this result possible.”

“As demonstrated by this case, the United States will be tireless in its efforts to hold al-Qaeda members accountable when they target American citizens serving their country abroad. We are firmly committed to bringing such terrorists to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rohde. Ms. Rohde expressed her grateful appreciation to the Department of Defense Army investigators, the Office of Military Commissions, the Italian Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor’s Office in Palermo, Italy, the Italian National Police, Guardia di Finanza and Carabinieri authorities for their support and assistance.

“We hope the verdict today shows the public the FBI New York JTTF and our law enforcement partners are still arresting, charging and trying operatives for al-Qaeda 15 years after 9/11 because we won’t give up the obligation to bring terrorists to justice,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “It should also prove to anyone who wishes to harm our country, we will not stop, and we will never forget.”

“Al Qaeda operative Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun pledged allegiance to a known terrorist organization, conspiring to kill coalition soldiers in Afghanistan and even bomb a U.S. embassy in Nigeria,” said Commissioner O’Neill. “Today’s conviction holds the defendant responsible for the terror he waged overseas. I am thankful to the detectives, agents, and more than 50 partner agencies on the Joint Terrorism Task Force here in Manhattan and to the prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York who continue bring rigorous terrorism cases in federal court.”

Harun, also known as “Spin Ghul,” “Abu Tamim,” “Esbin Gol,” “Isbungoul,” “Joseph Johnson” and “Mortala Mohamed Adam,” was convicted on all five counts presented to the jury, which include conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals; conspiracy to bomb a government facility; conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, al Qaeda; providing and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda; and use of explosives in connection with terrorist activities.

During the two-week trial, the government established that Harun, purportedly a citizen of Niger, traveled from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan in late summer of 2001 to join a jihadist group. There, he moved into an al Qaeda guesthouse – a registration center for new al Qaeda recruits – where he was living on Sept. 11, 2001. Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, al Qaeda military leaders sent Harun to training camps in Afghanistan, in anticipation of an American invasion. At these camps, he learned how to use weapons and explosives, met top al Qaeda leaders and received his “kunya” (nom de guerre) “Spin Ghul,” meaning the, “White Rose.” Harun then traveled to Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region of Pakistan, where he operated under Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, one of bin Laden’s deputies who was al Qaeda’s top military commander in Afghanistan at that time.

On April 25, 2003, Harun and fellow al Qaeda jihadists ambushed a U.S. military patrol from Firebase Shkin. Harun fired machinegun rounds and threw grenades at American soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” or “God is Great.” Two U.S. servicemen were killed in the attack, Private First Class Jerod Dennis, 19, of Oklahoma, and Airman First Class Raymond Losano, 24, of Texas. Several other soldiers were seriously wounded. Harun was also wounded but escaped to Pakistan. A pocket-sized Koran recovered at the scene contained Harun’s fingerprints and a journal describing the attacks contained Harun’s alias.

While recovering from his wounds in Pakistan, Harun met with senior al Qaeda officials – including Abu Faraj al-Libi (Abu Faraj), then al Qaeda’s external operations chief – and expressed his desire to engage in acts of terror against U.S. interests outside of Afghanistan, specifically attacks similar to 1998 al Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Harun also swore “bayat” – or formal allegiance – to bin Laden through bin Laden’s military commander Abdul Hadi.

In summer of 2003, Harun traveled from Pakistan to Nigeria, where he planned to bomb the U.S. Embassy. He recruited accomplices, scouted the Embassy and other potential Western targets, and sent an accomplice to find explosives. He also met with local terrorist leaders to build up al Qaeda’s network in West Africa.

In 2004, Harun directed a co-conspirator to travel from Nigeria to deliver information and materials to al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. After learning that the co-conspirator had been arrested in Pakistan, Harun fled Nigeria. At approximately the same time, the FBI obtained a hard drive containing a letter written from Harun’s al Qaeda handler to Harun, providing him with detailed instructions on how to attack Americans in Nigeria. The letter specifically instructed Harun to target Americans – whom he described as “the head of the snake” – at “locations where Americans congregate,” such as embassies, hotels and “places where they gather for fun.” The al Qaeda handler also instructed Harun to obtain one ton of explosives for the bombing operation in Nigeria.

Harun then traveled to Libya where he planned to surreptitiously enter Europe to carry out terrorist attacks against Western interests. In early 2005, however, he was arrested by Libyan authorities and held in custody until his release in June 2011. Subsequently, Harun was arrested on June 24, 2011 by Italian authorities.

Harun was indicted in the U.S. on Feb. 21, 2012, and the Italian Minister of Justice ordered his extradition on Sept. 14, 2012 to face the charges pending in the Eastern District of New York.

When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan on June 22, Harun faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Melody Wells and Matthew J. Jacobs of the Eastern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Joseph N. Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hester (W.D. Missouri Feb. 21, 2017) (new Islamic State material support case)

February 22, 2017

Details from the press release:

WASHINGTON – Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr., 25, of Jefferson City, Missouri, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Hester was charged in federal court based on his role in making preparations to launch a terrorist attack with persons he believed were associated with ISIS, who were actually undercover law enforcement personnel.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson for the Western District of Missouri and Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office.

“As alleged in the complaint, Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr. attempted to provide material support to ISIS by participating in what he believed would be a deadly attack committed in the name of the foreign terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Countering terrorist threats remains the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue our efforts to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders.”

“First on social media, then during face-to-face meetings with an undercover FBI employee, this defendant repeatedly expressed his intent to engage in acts of violent jihad against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Dickson. “He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims. He readily participated in the preparations for an attack, provided materials and resources for an attack and voiced his intent to carry out an attack. I commend the FBI for protecting the public from a security threat.”

“Terrorism knows no demographic boundaries and remains the FBI’s top priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Jackson. “The arrest of Hester is the culmination of an extensive FBI investigation and demonstrates the challenges law enforcement faces in identifying individuals intent on causing harm.”

Hester, who remains in federal custody, was arrested on February 17, when he arrived at an arranged meeting with an undercover law enforcement employee. The criminal complaint was signed on Sunday and made public today, when Hester made his initial court appearance.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, throughout the investigation, Hester expressed his interest in and exhibited his willingness to commit violence in support of ISIS – and he attempted to provide material support to ISIS by assisting in what he believed would be a murderous terrorist bombing and gunfire attack committed in the name of the foreign terrorist organization.

Hester is a U.S. citizen who was born in Missouri. He was enlisted in the U.S. Army for less than a year, receiving a general discharge from service in mid-2013.

FBI agents undertook a review of Hester’s publicly available posts on multiple social media accounts in September 2016. On Oct. 3, 2016, Hester was arrested by the Columbia, Missouri, Police Department in an unrelated case and remained in state custody until he was released on bond on Oct. 13, 2016. His bond conditions included electronic monitoring. While Hester was being monitored, FBI undercover employees maintained regular contact with him via an encrypted messaging app and text messages, and met with him on several occasions.

On January 24, Hester pleaded guilty in state court to property damage and unlawful use of a weapon and was released on his own recognizance. Hester was no longer on electronic monitoring after that date. FBI undercover personnel continued to meet in person with Hester and communicate with him electronically.

Hester agreed to meet again with an FBI undercover employee on February 17. When Hester arrived for that meeting, he was arrested. Hester was the sole subject of this undercover investigation.

Undercover Investigation

According to the affidavit, the investigation began when the FBI became aware (through multiple confidential sources) of Hester’s social media posts, in which he expressed animus towards the U.S. and suggested an adherence to radical Islamic ideology and a propensity for violence. Hester used several online aliases, including “Mohammed Junaid Al Amreeki,” “Junaid Muhammad,” “Rabbani Junaid Muhammad,” “Rami Talib” and “Ali Talib Muhammad.”

On Oct. 3, 2016, Hester was arrested by Columbia police officers after an incident in the parking lot of a grocery store. Hester, who appeared to be in an argument with his wife, threw a folded pocket knife through a plate-glass window near the entrance of the store. When store employees confronted Hester, he assumed an aggressive stance and forcefully placed his hand into the diaper bag he was carrying in a manner that appeared to be reaching for a weapon. Police officers later recovered a 9mm handgun from the diaper bag. Hester was in custody until Oct. 13, 2016, when he was released on bond and placed on electronic monitoring.

On Oct. 15, 2016, two days after Hester’s release on bond, an FBI employee using an undercover identity contacted Hester by private message. The FBI employee had accepted a friend request from Hester the day before Hester was arrested for the grocery store incident. They continued to communicate via social media, text and an encrypted messaging app, the affidavit says, during which Hester presented himself as a security threat, stating, for example, that the U.S. government should be “overthrown,” and suggesting “hitting” the government “hard,” while noting that it would not be “a one man job.” Hester identified categories of potential targets for attack and said he wanted a “global jihad.” Hester stated that he was trying to find like-minded people to help. When the undercover employee mentioned “brothers,” Hester said he wanted to meet them.

Hester then established that he would act on the statements he made online. In early November 2016, the affidavit says, Hester made arrangements with the undercover employee – whom he never met in person – to meet with “one of the brothers.” The undercover employee arranged this meeting with another undercover FBI employee.

During a January 31 meeting, the undercover employee provided Hester with a list of items to purchase, including 9-volt batteries, duct tape, copper wire and roofing nails. The undercover employee implied that these items would be used to make bombs, the affidavit says, stating that those materials are needed “to make … things … to bring some kind of destruction.” Hester allegedly responded by stating: “I’m just ready to help. I’m ready to help any way I can.” When the undercover employee stated that what they were planning was “going to bring them to their knees … and then they gonna know to fear Allah,” Hester expressed his anticipation by stating: “I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”

Hester and the undercover employee agreed to meet again at Hester’s residence the next day. When the undercover employee arrived, the affidavit says, Hester gave him the items he had purchased. The undercover employee told Hester they were planning something “10 times more” than the Boston Marathon bombing, and Hester expressed his approval. The undercover employee told Hester that they were planning on “killing a lot of people.” The undercover employee told Hester that he could “walk away,” the affidavit says, but Hester said, “I’m down.” The undercover employee told Hester they were going to “wage all kinda war,” and Hester again expressed his approval.

The undercover employee then pulled back blankets in the back of the SUV to show Hester three AK-47 style rifles and two .45-caliber handguns. The undercover employee told Hester that, while they had plenty of firearms, they needed more ammunition. Hester stated that he could not purchase ammunition because of his state charges, but that he had a friend that could get ammunition for him. Hester stated that he would have money to purchase ammunition after he received his tax refund and after he was paid in a couple of weeks.

The undercover employee also opened a backpack, which contained pieces of pipe with end caps attached in the manner of pipe bombs, along with cord-like safety fuse, stating, “these are bombs right here.” The undercover employee explained that the duct tape Hester provided would be used to tape the bombs together, which Hester acknowledged, and that the nails Hester provided would “cut peoples’ heads off.” Hester responded: “Oh yeah. I know,” indicating that he understood the nails were to be used as shrapnel for bombs.

The undercover employee stated that they had more backpacks that they were going to put in different locations. Hester acknowledged that he understood, and stated that they had to be smarter than the Boston Marathon bombers. Hester again confirmed that he was “down,” the affidavit says, and that he understood they had to “lay low” and act in a manner to avoid detection.

The undercover employee stated that they were going to “strike fear in all these infidel hearts,” and Hester responded that he agreed and that he was ready.

According to the affidavit, Hester contacted the first undercover employee via text message on February 2, and indicated he would “have some more stuff … in a couple of weeks when I get paid.” Hester asked the undercover employee, “When you talk to the brother again let him know I’ll have some more gifts in a couple of weeks.”

On February 4, 6, 7, 11 and 16 Hester communicated with an undercover employee via an encrypted messaging app. Hester said that he was excited, that he was “happy to be part” of it, and that it was “time they answer for their atrocities.” Hester predicted that it was “going to be a good day for Muslims worldwide.” Hester asked how the “party plan” was coming along and reiterated that he would get more “supplies.” The undercover employee told Hester that the “party” would take place on Presidents’ Day and that the targets of the operation would include busses, trains and a train station in Kansas City. Hester said, according to the affidavit, that it felt “good to help strike back at the true terrorist.”

On February 17, Hester met again with the second undercover employee and brought two additional boxes of roofing nails. Hester accompanied the undercover employee to a nearby storage facility, where the two examined the security cameras. Hester was arrested shortly thereafter.

The charge contained in this complaint and the assertions in the supporting affidavit are simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian P. Casey and David Raskin, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Qamar (E.D. Va. Feb. 17, 2017) (8.5 year sentence in Islamic State material support case)

February 19, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke, Virginia, was sentenced today to 102 months in prison for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Qamar was also sentenced to 20 years of supervised release to be completed after his released from prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Division made the announcement after the sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

Qamar pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, 2016. According to court documents, in May 2016, Qamar and an FBI Confidential Witness (CW) discussed ISIL’s need for photographs of possible targets in and around Washington, D.C., for use in a video that ISIL purportedly was making to encourage lone-wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area. Qamar offered the CW ideas of what to photograph, including the Pentagon and numerous landmarks in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., which could be targeted for terrorist attacks. On June 3, 2016, a conversation was audio and video recorded when the CW picked up Qamar in a vehicle and drove to area landmarks on the list Qamar previously developed. Qamar said “bye bye DC, stupid ass kufar, kill’em all.” Qamar and the CW met again on June 10, 2016, and drove to a location in Arlington to take additional photographs for the purported ISIL video.

According to the statement of facts, during numerous conversations with the CW, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence associated with ISIL. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood, and beheadings. He recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered and he liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn. On several occasions, Qamar said he could slaughter someone and described how he would do it. Qamar also stated he admired lone-wolf attackers because they love Islam so much that they are willing to die as martyrs for Islam. In the same conversation, Qamar and the CW also discussed suicide bombings. The CW said the CW did not believe in suicide bombings, but Qamar responded, “I believe in it 100 percent.”

According to the statement of facts, on Sept. 11, 2015, terrorists connected with ISIL posted a “kill list” to the internet containing the names and addresses of U.S. military members. A few days later, Qamar told CW that the residences of several service members who appeared on the “kill list” were near Qamar’s home, and Qamar observed undercover police cars near those residences. On Sept. 16, 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer that Allah “give strength to the mujahideen to slaughter every single US military officer.”

Moreover, according to the statement of facts, on Sept. 25, 2015, Qamar told the CW that he tried to join ISIL in 2014, and purchased a plane ticket from Newark, New Jersey, to Istanbul, Turkey. Qamar, however, did not show up for the flight because his parents prevented him from doing so; Qamar’s parents took his passport. Qamar said his parents threatened to notify law enforcement and said he fought with his father and called his father a traitor to Islam. On Nov. 18, 2015, the CW asked Qamar if his father gave him back his passport, would Qamar travel overseas and join ISIL. In response, Qamar said if that happened, “I’m done, I leave.”

In a related matter, Soufian Amri, 32, of Falls Church, Virginia, and Michael Queen, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia, acquaintances of Qamar, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with obstructing justice and conspiring to provide material false statements to law-enforcement officers who were investigating Qamar.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case with assistance from Trial Attorneys Justin Sher and Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Haften (W.D. Wis. Feb. 17, 2017) (10-yr sentence in Islamic State material support case)

February 19, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Joshua Van Haften, 36, of Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison and lifetime supervised release for attempting to provide material support, namely himself as personnel, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil of the Western District of Wisconsin and Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division made the announcement. U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson handed down the sentence.

“With this sentence, Joshua Van Haften will be held accountable for attempting to travel overseas to join ISIL and to provide material support to the designated terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“Today’s sentence reflects the gravity of the defendant’s plan to betray the United States and to join terrorists dedicated to the murder of innocent individuals, both in the U.S. and abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Vaudreuil. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, working with our state and local partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, will continue to work to investigate, arrest, and vigorously prosecute all extremists who choose to aid ISIL, or any other terrorist organization, and to stop them before they harm the United States or our allies. We also remain committed to working with dedicated community members to bring this cycle to an end.”

“I commend the efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force which includes our local and state law enforcement partners who brought the defendant to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Tolomeo. “Protecting Americans from terrorism remains our top priority.”

Van Haften admitted that in 2014, he attempted to provide material support to ISIL, knowing that the organization was a designated terrorist organization that has engaged and engages in terrorism.

According to the government’s evidence, Van Haften traveled to Turkey in 2014 and attempted to cross into Syria. He posted online that he had taken an oath of allegiance to the leader of ISIL, and that “The only thing that matters to me is joining my brothers for the war against America [sic] liars.”

In addition to traveling to Turkey in an attempt to fight with ISIL, Van Haften tried to assist another American, Leon Davis, in joining ISIL. He attempted to meet Davis in Istanbul upon Davis’s arrival – actually waiting for Davis at a bus stop in Istanbul – and planned to travel with Davis to Syria to join and fight with ISIL.

Leon Davis, of Augusta, Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in July 2015, following his conviction in the Southern District of Georgia for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIL.

Van Haften was arrested at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois in April 2015, after his arrival in custody on an international flight from Turkey. He has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

The charge against Van Haften is the result of an investigation by members of the FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force which include the FBI; the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin; and the University of Wisconsin Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Marquez (C.D. Cal. Feb. 14, 2017) (guilty plea in material support / San Bernadino-linked case)

February 15, 2017

From DOJ’s press release (plea agreement attached below):

WASHINGTON – Enrique Marquez Jr., 25, of Riverside, California – longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack – agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker for the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. Marquez entered into a plea agreement that was filed today in U.S. District Court. The defendant is scheduled to enter his guilty pleas this Thursday at 12:00 p.m. EST, 9:00 a.m. PST before U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal.

“With this plea, Enrique Marquez Jr. will be held accountable for his role in plotting terrorist attacks on American soil with Sayed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012, attacks which were, fortunately, not carried out,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Marquez also admitted to making a false statement as part of his straw purchases of weapons for Farook – weapons that were eventually used to carry out the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Holding those who threaten our national security and public safety accountable will always be the highest priority of the National Security Division and I want to thank all of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

“This defendant collaborated with and purchased weapons for a man who carried out the devastating December 2, 2015 terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people, wounded nearly two dozen, and impacted our entire nation,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “While his earlier plans to attack a school and a freeway were not executed, the planning clearly laid the foundation for the 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center. When this defendant pleads guilty, all four individuals charged, including three of the shooters’ family members, will be convicted. Everyone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office – and everyone across the Department of Justice and the broader law enforcement community – brought their expertise, dedication, and tireless effort to bear on this investigation. We are, and will continue to be, deeply committed to pursuing the prosecution of everyone who was even remotely related to the San Bernardino attack. As these criminal cases begin to resolve, we hope that the victims of the attack and the community of San Bernardino are comforted in some small way by the knowledge that the Department of Justice and the law enforcement community stands with them in this investigation, resolute and committed to justice.”

“Defendant Marquez purchased two of the weapons used in the San Bernardino terror attack to murder 14 innocent people and seriously injure 22 others – a horrific act which led to great suffering and a lifetime of pain for the survivors and for the loved ones of those murdered,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fike. “Defendant Marquez provided these weapons to his associate, Syed Rizwan Farook, with whom he conspired to plot chilling terror attacks. I’m gratified that this guilty plea will spare the victims and the San Bernardino community from having to relive the gruesome details of the attack during what would likely be a lengthy trial.”

According to the plea agreement, Marquez agreed to plead guilty to providing material support and resources to terrorists, including weapons, explosives and personnel. Marquez admitted in the plea agreement that he conspired with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to attack Riverside City College (RCC) and commuter traffic on the 91 Freeway. Marquez also agreed to plead guilty to making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm for being the “straw buyer” of two assault rifles that were used in the shooting rampage at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC) on Dec. 2, 2015.

Marquez was arrested about two weeks after the attack at the IRC, which was perpetrated by Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who were killed in a shootout with law enforcement hours after the attack. The investigation into the deadly shooting quickly uncovered evidence that, in 2011 and 2012, Marquez purchased two rifles that Farook and Malik later used in the attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the IRC. A law enforcement officer was also wounded during the shootout that afternoon.

According to the plea agreement, Farook paid Marquez for the rifles. Marquez also discussed with Farook the use of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the planned attacks on the RCC and State Route 91. Marquez purchased Christmas tree lightbulbs and a container of smokeless powder for use in manufacturing IEDs.

Once he pleads guilty, Marquez will face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison. Marquez, who did not personally participate in the attack on the IRC, has remained in custody since he was ordered detained at his initial court appearance in this case on Dec. 17, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Today’s plea agreement is the result of an investigation by members of the Inland Empire FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force in California, including agents and detectives from the FBI; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; the Chino Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; the Riverside Police Department; the Ontario Police Department; the Redlands Police Department; and the Corona Police Department.

Also, as a result of the investigation into the IRC attack, three people have pleaded guilty to being part of a sham marriage scheme in which a Russian woman “married” Marquez to obtain immigration benefits. Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of IRC attacker Syed Rizwan Farook; Tatiana Farook, Syed Raheel Farook’s wife; and Mariya Chernykh, Tatiana Farook’s sister, pleaded guilty earlier this year to immigration fraud charges and admitted to being part of a conspiracy in which Chernykh paid Marquez to enter into a bogus marriage.

The two criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay H. Robinson, Melanie Sartoris and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section provided substantial assistance.

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Marquez Plea Agreement.pdf