nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Warsame (D. Minn. Feb. 11, 2016) (guilty plea in ISIL material support case)

February 11, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Egan, Minnesota, pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendant pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis of the District of Minnesota.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division made the announcement.

“With his guilty plea, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame has admitted to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Warsame was part of a group of individuals who sought to travel to Syria to fight with the designated foreign terrorist organization. The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and hold accountable those who conspire to provide material support to terrorists.”

“ISIL recruiting in Minnesota is an ongoing problem,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Federal law enforcement and our local partners remain dedicated to ending terror recruitment in our state. One of the important factors we believe will help stop the recruiting pipeline is for those who have been charged to take responsibility for their crimes. I am encouraged that today Mr. Warsame is doing just that. He has now taken the first step to help himself begin the process of rehabilitation and help our entire community begin to heal.”

“Preventing terrorism in the United States or against U.S. interests remain the FBI’s top priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton. “This includes identifying individuals who aspire to travel overseas to fight on behalf of foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIL. Every person we stop from joining ISIL is one less person ISIL has to conduct acts of terror and the atrocities they are known for. This Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation which culminated in today’s guilty plea was the result of collaboration with our state, local, and federal partners.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, throughout early 2014, Warsame participated in several meetings with a group of individuals who wished to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Warsame and his co-conspirators discussed means of funding travel to Syria and potential routes from Minnesota to Syria that would best elude law enforcement. In April 2014, Warsame applied for an expedited passport with the intent of using the passport to travel overseas to join ISIL and in that same month, provided approximately $200 to co-conspirator Adnan Farah for fees associated with Farah’s expedited passport application. Warsame knew Farah planned to use the passport to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, during a May 2014 meeting between Warsame and his co-conspirators, Warsame accepted the position of “emir,” or leader, of the group. Guled Ali Omar had previously been “emir,” but was at that time planning to depart for Syria to join ISIL.

According to the plea, in June 2014, Warsame obtained a phone number for H.K., who at the time was an ISIL fighter, and Warsame passed the contact information along to Y.J., who was then attempting to travel from Turkey to Syria to join ISIL.

In April 2015, according to his guilty plea, Warsame participated in a series of meetings with co-conspirators Omar, Abdirahman Daud, Mohamed Farah and Adnan Farah. At one of the meetings, Warsame repeatedly encouraged Omar to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and John Docherty of the District of Minnesota with assistance provided by the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Bahar (E.D. Va. Feb.8, 2016) (indictment of Umm Sayaf)

February 9, 2016

Well, this is…unexpected. Umm Sayaf had been in U.S. military custody but was transferred to Iraqi custody some time ago, and as I understand it there she remains. And now, an indictment (see attached). One might think a deal is in the works to turn her back over to the United States, but at least some of the media accounts suggest otherwise. No doubt there is more to the story! Press release below, at any rate:

WASHINGTON – Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, aka Umm Sayyaf, 25, an Iraqi citizen and wife of Abu Sayyaf, a senior leader within the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) until his death last year, was charged by criminal complaint today for her role in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of American citizen Kayla Jean Mueller in February 2015.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“The charges filed today allege that Umm Sayyaf and others conspired to provide material support to ISIL and that this conspiracy resulted in the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody for her terrorism-related activities. We fully support the Iraqi prosecution of Sayyaf and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding Sayyaf accountable for her crimes. At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad. We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism.”

“Kayla Mueller’s kidnapping and death is a tragic reminder of the dangers that ISIL poses to Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Boente. “We will continue to work alongside the FBI to investigate this case and remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice for the Mueller family.”

“The FBI continues to work tirelessly alongside our partners to hold accountable those who are responsible for the kidnapping and death of Kayla Mueller,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “This criminal complaint is another step toward achieving justice in the case. We will always be relentless in our efforts to identify, locate and arrest those who are responsible for the kidnappings and murders of American citizens.”

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, in August 2013, on their second full day in northern Syria, Mueller and Individual 1 were kidnapped at gunpoint by masked ISIL soldiers. Mueller remained an ISIL hostage until her death on or about Feb. 7, 2015.

According to the affidavit, in August 2014, Individual 2 and Individual 3, two young Kurdish women of Yazidi heritage, were forcibly kidnapped by ISIL from their village in northern Iraq. After their capture, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were taken to a prison in Syria maintained by ISIL where they were held with Mueller.

According to the affidavit, on or about Sept. 24, 2014, Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were transferred from the ISIL prison to the custody of Abu and Umm Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf, who reported directly to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was ISIL’s minister of oil and gas, and was previously responsible for ISIL’s media program. The Sayyafs maintained several residences where they forcibly held Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3, along with other female captives. The captives were at various times handcuffed, held in locked rooms, and Mueller was sexually abused by Baghdadi, who forced her to have sex with him. Umm Sayyaf knew how Mueller was treated by Baghdadi when Mueller was held against her will in Sayyaf’s home.

The Sayyaf residences featured ISIL flags and other ISIL-branded items, and often had numerous firearms open and visible to captives. For a period of time, a large supply of weapons was maintained in a room of one of the residences for use by ISIL fighters.

According to the affidavit, the Sayyafs held young women who were sold or traded to ISIL men, and the women were characterized as being “owned” by the ISIL men who acquired them. While Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were held captive by the Sayyafs, Umm Sayyaf threatened the women, telling them she would kill them if they did not listen to her.

According to the affidavit, on or about May 15, 2015, the U.S. military conducted an operation targeting one of the Sayyaf residences. During the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged with U.S. military forces and Umm Sayyaf was captured. Firearms stored at the residence at the time of the operation were seized and are currently in the custody of the FBI.

According to the affidavit, beginning on or about June 17, 2015, Umm Sayyaf was interviewed by FBI agents and admitted that her family belonged to the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) terrorist organization, the predecessor group to ISIL, and remained members of the terrorist organization when its name changed to ISIL. The defendant admitted to holding Mueller, Individual 2, Individual 3 and others hostage on behalf of ISIL. Umm Sayyaf also admitted she had sole responsibility for Mueller, Individual 2, Individual 3 and others in captivity while her husband travelled on ISIL business. In addition, she admitted to hosting ISIL members, including al-Baghdadi, at her residence.

According to the affidavit, Sayyaf admitted that al-Baghdadi “owned” Mueller during her captivity at the Sayyaf residence and admitted that “owning” is equivalent to slavery.

If convicted, Sayyaf faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The charge in the complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Bridget Behling and John Gibbs of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Sayyaf Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Booker (D.Kan.) (Feb. 3, 2016) (guilty plea in car bomb plot)

February 3, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – John T. Booker Jr., 21, of Topeka, Kansas, pleaded guilty today to attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb on the Fort Riley military base in Manhattan, Kansas.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom of the District of Kansas made the announcement.

Booker pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia of the District of Kansas to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. The parties have stipulated to a sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

“John Booker admitted that he intended to kill U.S. military personnel on American soil in the name of ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Thankfully, law enforcement was able to safely identify and disrupt this threat to the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country. The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats and protecting American lives by holding accountable those who plot to attack us.”

“If this defendant had succeeded, American soldiers would have died,” said U.S. Attorney Grissom. “The investigators and the attorneys who worked on this case were our line of defense against terrorism. They kept us safe.”

In his guilty plea, Booker admitted he intended to kill American soldiers and to assist ISIL’s fight against the United States. His plan called for constructing a bomb containing 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate. Booker intended to trigger the bomb himself and die in the process, and filmed a video he intended Americans to see after his death.

“You sit in your homes and think this war is just over in Iraq,” he said in the video. “Today we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep.”

Unbeknownst to Booker, the bomb that he constructed was made with inert materials, and the two men working with him were undercover informants for the FBI.

The FBI began investigating Booker in March 2014 after he posted on his Facebook page that he wanted to commit jihad. Booker admitted that he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army in order to commit an insider attack against American soldiers like the one at Fort Hood in Texas, but his deadly plans were thwarted when he was denied entry into the Army. In October 2014, Booker began communicating with an undercover FBI informant. He told the undercover FBI informant that he dreamed of being a fighter in the Middle East, and proposed capturing and killing an American soldier.

In March 2015, Booker was introduced to another FBI informant who he believed would help him plan an attack. Booker said he wanted to detonate a suicide bomb because he couldn’t be captured, all the evidence would be destroyed, and he would be guaranteed to hit his target. On March 10, 2015, Booker made a video filmed at Freedom Park near Marshall Army Airfield at Fort Riley in which he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL. That month, he rented a storage unit in Topeka where the bomb would be assembled.

On April 10, 2015, Booker and the informants drove to an area near Fort Riley that Booker believed to be a little-used utility gate where they could enter Fort Riley undetected. He was arrested when he made the final connections on the device that he believed would arm the bomb.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi and David Smith of the District of Kansas, and Trial Attorneys Josh Parecki and Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Sullivan (E.D.N.C. Feb. 1, 2016) (indictment in material support for ISIL)

February 1, 2016

The indictment describes a young North Carolina man inspired by ISIL videos who allegedly solicited the murder of his own parents and planned a mass killing in the US. Details from the press release are below, the indictment is attached:

WASHINGTON – A North Carolina man has been charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and related offenses, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte, North Carolina, Division.

The seven-count indictment was unsealed in federal court today, charging Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, North Carolina, with attempting to provide material support to ISIL; receipt of a silencer in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony; receipt and possession of an unregistered firearm; concealment and storage of a stolen firearm; use of interstate facilities in the attempted commission of a murder-for-hire; and two counts of making false statements to FBI agents.

“According to allegations in the indictment, Sullivan attempted to provide material support to ISIL by acquiring weapons and planning to conduct deadly attacks on our soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Countering threats to the safety of the American people is the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“As alleged in the indictment, Sullivan pledged allegiance to ISIL, a designated foreign terrorist organization, and planned to carry out assassinations and mass shootings against innocent people,” said U.S. Attorney Rose. “Detecting and prosecuting violent extremists is a priority for my office and we will work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure that potential terrorist attacks are foiled, would-be assassins are brought to justice and Americans are kept from harm’s way.”

“Justin Sullivan had elaborate plans to kill hundreds of innocent people to show his support for the terrorist organization, ISIL,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong. “During the course of our investigation evidence was uncovered linking Sullivan to John Bailey Clark’s murder six months earlier. Any loss of life is tragic; due to the work of the FBI and our law enforcement partners, other planned attacks were thwarted preventing more violence.”

According to allegations contained in the indictment and information in related court filings, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan watched violent ISIL attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, after converting to Islam. The indictment alleges that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIL in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents. The indictment also alleges that beginning no later than June 6, 2015, Sullivan attempted to provide material support to ISIL by planning terrorists attacks and discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.

As alleged in the federal indictment, Sullivan told the UCE via social media that it was better to remain in the United States to support ISIL than to travel. Sullivan suggested that the UCE obtain weapons and told the UCE that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina. On or about June 20, 2015, Sullivan attempted to purchase hollow point ammunition to be used with the weapon(s) he intended to purchase.

The indictment alleges that Sullivan had researched on the Internet how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks. The indictment further alleges that Sullivan told the UCE he planned to carry out his attack in the following few days at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed using the assault rifle and silencer.

According to allegations in the indictment, on or about June 19, 2015, the silencer, which was built according to Sullivan’s instructions, was delivered to him at his home in North Carolina, where Sullivan’s mother opened the package. The indictment alleges that Sullivan took the silencer from his mother and hid it in a crawl space under his house. When Sullivan’s parents questioned him about the silencer, Sullivan, believing that his parents would interfere with his plans to carry out an attack, offered to compensate the UCE to kill them.

On June 19, 2015, Sullivan was arrested at his parents’ home, where law enforcement also executed a search for the silencer and other items. The indictment alleges that law enforcement interviewed Sullivan on separate occasions and that Sullivan made false statements pertaining to the weapons in his possession and his involvement in the murder of his neighbor, John Bailey Clark, 74. In particular, according to the indictment, Sullivan was asked on June 19, 2015, if he had a rifle, to which he answered no. However, the FBI’s search found a .22 rifle, a black ski mask and a lock pick kit hidden in the crawl space with the silencer. The indictment alleges that on June 20, 2015, Sullivan admitted that he had stolen the rifle from his father’s gun cabinet and hid it in the crawl space. Forensic testing shows that the .22 rifle hidden by Sullivan was used to murder Clark.

The District Attorney’s Office for North Carolina’s 25th Prosecutorial District, which includes Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties, is handling North Carolina’s prosecution of Sullivan for Clark’s murder.

Sullivan is currently in federal custody and has waived arrangement on the federal charges. Trial is set for Feb. 22, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger of the Western District of North Carolina.

The charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign organization carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of receiving a silencer in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The charge of receipt and possession of an unregistered firearm carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. The charge of possession, concealment and storage of a stolen firearm carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. The charge of using interstate facilities in the attempted commission of a murder-for-hire carries a maximum prison term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of making a false statement to an agency of the United States carries a maximum prison term of up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement, Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Rose thanked District Attorney David Learner for his office’s continued assistance and coordination. Both also praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in this case. Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, the U.S. Secret Service, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Hickory Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism section.

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Justin Nojan Sullivan Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ferizi (E.D.Va. Jan. 27, 2016) (hacked charged with material support to ISIL arrives in US)

January 29, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Ardit Ferizi, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia on charges alleging that he provided mat erial support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and committed computer hacking and identity theft violations in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information (PII) of U.S. servicemembers and federal employees.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Michelle S. Klimt of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division made the announcement.

Ferizi, who was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the United States, was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015. The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015. Ferizi subsequently waived extradition.

If convicted, Ferizi faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Jacksonville Division. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Malaysian authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hashi (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 29, 2016) (9 year sentence in al-Shabaab material support case)

January 29, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Mahdi Hashi, 26, a Somali national, was sentenced to nine years in prison by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendant traveled from the United Kingdom to Somalia to join the terrorist group. While in Somalia, the defendant was affiliated with the American jihadist Omar Hamami and his band of American fighters, as well as individuals associated with al-Shabaab’s suicide bomber program.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

As stated in court today and according to court documents, between approximately December 2009 and August 2012, the defendant served as a member of al-Shabaab in Somalia where he conspired to support al-Shabaab and its violent extremist agenda. In August 2012, the defendant was apprehended with others by local authorities in East Africa after he left Somalia, and then lawfully deported to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution in November 2012.

On Nov. 14, 2012, the FBI took custody of the defendant and brought him to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution. He, along with two codefendants, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2015.

“Hashi travelled to Somalia to join and fight on behalf of al-Shabaab in their foreign terrorist fighter ranks,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division remains committed to detecting, thwarting and bringing to justice those who seek to provide material support to and fight on behalf of designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“This defendant left his family and his adopted home in the United Kingdom behind so he could offer himself in support of al-Shabaab, a violent terrorist organization that has demonstrated its capabilities and motives in numerous terrorist attacks and that has publicly called for attacks against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to others who offer support to terrorist groups that pose a threat to the United States and our allies around the world.”

“Mahdi Hashi joined a foreign terrorist organization to be part of a group utilizing violence to fulfill their agenda,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “He now finds himself isolated behind bars due to the criminality of his activities. Through today’s sentence, we hope he can no longer be in a position to inflict, or support those who inflict, harm on others. The FBI, in cooperation with our JTTF partners, will continue to work to identify and interrupt those engaged in terrorist activities globally, and bring them to justice in the U.S.”

During the time of the charged conspiracy and thereafter, al-Shabaab successfully recruited individuals from around the world, including Hashi, to come to Somalia and join the organization. These individuals, known within al-Shabaab as “foreign fighters,” lived, trained and often fought alongside native Somali fighters. Al-Shabaab frequently made Western foreign fighters the face of its fundraising and propaganda efforts as part of a broader strategy emphasizing that the conflict in Somalia was part of a global jihad aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate. In addition, al-Shabaab assesses that Westerners have the potential to more easily cross certain international borders. Because al-Shabaab frequently employs suicide bombings, as it did in the Kampala, Uganda, attacks in 2010 resulting in 74 deaths, freedom of travel was and is particularly crucial to al-Shabaab’s external terror operations.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in thanking the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.

The government’s case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth D. DuCharme and Richard M. Tucker of the Eastern District of New York, along with Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided invaluable assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. al-Hamidi (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 19, 2016) (guilty plea in case involving attacks on US soldiers in Afghanistan)

January 20, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Ali Alvi al-Hamidi, 31, a Yemeni national, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to murder U.S. nationals abroad, conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and receiving military-type training from al-Qaeda. The guilty plea took place before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York. At sentencing, al-Hamidi faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office.

“Ali Alvi al-Hamidi went to the FATA to join al-Qaeda, received training from the terrorist organization, and later fought alongside the Taliban against coalition forces in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “With this plea, he will be held accountable for his terrorist activity, including conspiring to kill members of our military. The highest priority of the National Security Division is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to use all tools available to bring justice to those who seek to harm American servicemen and women who bravely risk their lives in defense of our nation.”

“Today’s significant guilty plea demonstrates this office’s unwavering commitment to bring to justice those who fight against U.S. forces or assist al-Qaeda and others in their efforts to kill Americans at home or abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Capers.

“As we witnessed today, those who support designated foreign terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and seek to harm people will be held fully accountable under the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “On a daily basis, the FBI and its partners face the challenge of an ever evolving threat environment. Through our partnerships, both international and domestic, the FBI continues to track down those who aid and abet terrorist groups and ensure that they are brought to justice.”

In early 2008, al-Hamidi traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan to join al-Qaeda. Once there, he received training from al-Qaeda in the use of weapons, explosives and detonators. During late spring and summer of 2008, al-Hamidi moved on to Afghanistan with Taliban forces for the purpose of fighting members of the U.S. military and coalition forces stationed there.

The defendant also aided Bryant Neal Vinas, a U.S. citizen, in joining al-Qaeda. Vinas traveled to Pakistan from Long Island, New York, hoping to join al-Qaeda and fight U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. After participating in al-Qaeda’s military training program, Vinas and senior al-Qaeda external operations leadership devised a plan to conduct an attack on the Long Island Railroad in New York. Vinas was arrested in 2008 before he could carry out this attack, and pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization. Vinas is currently incarcerated pending sentence.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in extending his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Michael P. Canty and Douglas M. Pravda of the Eastern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Josh Parecki of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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