nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ferizi (E.D. Va. Sep. 23, 2016) (sentencing in ISIL material support case)

September 23, 2016

Details from DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Ardit Ferizi, aka Th3Dir3ctorY, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information in order to provide material support to ISIL.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Charles P. Spencer of the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office made the announcement after the defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

"This case represents the first time we have seen the very real and dangerous national security cyber threat that results from the combination of terrorism and hacking,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “This was a wake-up call not only to those of us in law enforcement, but also to those in private industry. This successful prosecution also sends a message to those around the world that, if you provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations and assist them with their deadly attack planning, you will have nowhere to hide. As this case shows, we will reach half-way around the world if necessary to hold accountable those who engage in this type of activity. I want to thank the corporation that worked with law enforcement to solve this crime, and the agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked on this groundbreaking case."

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

Ferizi pleaded guilty on June 15. According to court documents, Ferizi admitted that on or about June 13, 2015, he gained system administrator-level access to a server that hosted the website of a U.S. victim company. The website contained databases with personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to tens of thousands of the victim company’s customers, including members of the military and other government personnel. Ferizi subsequently culled the PII belonging to U.S. military members and other government personnel, which totaled approximately 1,300 individuals. That same day, on June 13, Ferizi provided the PII belonging to the 1,300 U.S. military members and government personnel to Junaid Hussain, a now-deceased ISIL recruiter and attack facilitator. Ferizi and Hussain discussed publishing the PII of those 1,300 victims in a hit list.

According to court documents, on Aug. 11, 2015, in the name of the Islamic State Hacking Division (ISHD), Hussain posted a tweet that contained a document with the PII of the approximately 1,300 U.S. military and other government personnel that Ferizi had taken from the victim company and provided to Hussain. The document stated, in part, that “we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!” Ferizi admitted that he provided the PII to ISIL with the understanding that ISIL would use the PII to “hit them hard.”

This 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.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Edmonds (N.D. Ill. Sep. 20, 2016) (sentencing in IS material support case)

September 21, 2016

See below for details from DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Jonas Edmonds, 31, and Hasan Edmonds, 24, both of Aurora, Illinois, were sentenced to 21 years in prison and 30 years in prison, respectively, for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The sentencings were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois, and Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office.

“Hasan and Jonas Edmonds conspired to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “They were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for planning to wage violence on behalf of ISIL in the Middle East and to conduct an attack on our soil. Thanks to the efforts of many prosecutors, agents and analysts, we were able to ensure these plotters did not attain their violent intentions. Counterterrorism is the department’s highest priority and we will continue use all available tools to combat ISIL, a foreign terrorist organization that rapes, murders and enslaves Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

The pair pleaded guilty in December 2015 to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Hasan Edmonds also pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, while Jonas Edmonds pleaded guilty to one count of making a materially false statement to a law enforcement officer regarding an international terrorism offense.

The cousins admitted in their plea agreements that they devised a plan for Jonas Edmonds to carry out an armed attack at the U.S. Army National Guard base in Joliet, Illinois. At the time the attack was planned, Hasan Edmonds was a member of the Army National Guard and had been training at the Joliet installation. The plot called for Hasan Edmonds to provide military uniforms for Jonas Edmonds to wear during the attack, and to give Jonas Edmonds a list of officers to kill.

Members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) arrested the cousins in March 2015 before an attack could be carried out.

In addition to the proposed attack on the National Guard base, the conspiracy also called for Hasan Edmonds to travel to the Middle East for the purpose of waging violence on behalf of ISIL. Jonas Edmonds expressed his support and excitement for Hasan Edmonds’ travel, believing that anyone who supported a mujahid (a fighter) was a mujahid himself, according to Jonas Edmonds’ plea agreement.

The cases were investigated by members of the FBI-led JTTF which includes FBI special agents, as well as law enforcement officers from the Chicago Police Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Illinois State Police; the Aurora Police Department; and the Illinois National Guard.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and John Kness of the Northern District of Illinois, and Trial Attorney Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Rahami (S.D.N.Y. … AND … D.N.J.) (Sep. 20, 2016) (charges in the Chelsea & NJ bombings)

September 21, 2016

Both complaints and supporting affidavits are attached. Despite the dual complaints, note that he is heading to Manhattan to be tried first (and probably last) in SDNY. No word here on whether he has yet been Mirandized, nor whether presentment will occur immediately on arrival in New York. If any of you have reliable details regarding those matters, I’d be very glad to hear about it.

Details from the press release follow below.

Attorney General of the United States Loretta E. Lynch, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Director James B. Comey, Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney of the FBI New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the FBI Newark Field Office and Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”) James O’Neill announced that Ahmad Khan Rahami, a/k/a “Ahmad Rahimi,” has been charged in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, for conducting and attempting to conduct bombings in New York City and various locations in New Jersey on September 17, 2016, and September 18, 2016.

Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged in a Complaint filed in the Southern District of New York with one count of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of destroying and attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(d), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged detonation of an explosive device and efforts to detonate explosives in New York City.

Rahami is also charged in a Complaint filed in the District of New Jersey with two counts of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on each count; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and two counts of using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), each count of which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and, if convicted of both counts, a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Rahami will first be transported by the United States Marshals Service, pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to face the charges filed in the Southern District of New York. More than 30 people were injured as a result of the detonation of a bomb in the Chelsea area of New York City.

Mr. Bharara and Mr. Fishman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the FBI’s New Jersey Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mr. Bharara and Mr. Fishman also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.

The prosecution in the Southern District of New York is being handled by that Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Lewin, Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis, and Shawn G. Crowley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The prosecution in the District of New Jersey is being handled by that Office’s National Security Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dennis C. Carletta, Francisco J. Navarro, Margaret Ann Mahoney, and James M. Donnelly are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Rahami Ahmad Khan NJ Complaint.pdf

Rahami Ahmad Khan NY Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Stewart (M.D. Tenn. Sep. 16, 2016) (arrest of individual who threatened lives of members of Congress)

September 16, 2016

DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTONA Murfreesboro, Tennessee, man was taken into custody this morning by FBI agents and U.S. Capitol Police, after a criminal complaint was issued, charging him with threatening to murder a United States official and transmitting in interstate commerce, a communication containing a threat, announced U.S. Attorney David Rivera for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Agents arrested Keahiokahouna Stewart, 36, at his Murfreesboro home this morning without incident. Stewart is scheduled to make an initial appearance later today before a U.S. magistrate judge in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to the criminal complaint, beginning in August and continuing through Sept. 12, Stewart sent threatening emails and posted threatening videos to Instagram accounts, which he created. In an email dated on Aug. 19, Stewart specifically indicates that he will fly from Nashville to Honolulu, Hawaii, on Nov. 1, with the intent to shoot people at the Princess Jonah Federal Building. The specific targets of these threats were U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, who represents the state of Hawaii and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who represents the 2nd District for the state of Hawaii.

The complaint outlines that beginning in November 2013, Stewart sent a series of “Grievances” to various U.S. officials and departments, including President Barak Obama, Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard, inquiring about Stewart’s social security number. Stewart falsely believed that his social security number had been duplicated and issued to a fellow soldier he met while stationed at Camp Stanley in Korea, in 2002. In subsequent correspondence to the Social Security Administration and Department of Defense, Stewart demands he be awarded 100 percent disability and $50 billion.

As set forth in the complaint, Stewart’s actions continued to be investigated by law enforcement including a May 2015 visit to Senator Hirono’s office in Washington, D.C., which resulted in the U.S. Capitol Police being called. In subsequent Facebook and Instagram posts, Stewart continued to post comments about the issue and display photos of himself with firearms. In an Instagram video posted by Stewart on Sept. 8, he states that he is flying to Honolulu on Nov. 1, and will be traveling with an AR-15 and two handguns. Stewart further states that he has already shipped a silencer for one of the handguns and that it is stored in a garage in Waianae, Hawaii.

Investigators recently determined that Stewart had purchased an airline ticket to travel from Nashville to Honolulu on Nov. 1, however it had been “exchanged,” which would allow the ticket holder to travel on any other date.

If convicted, Stewart faces up to 10 years in prison on the charge of threatening to murder a U.S. official and up to five years in prison on the charge of communicating threats through interstate commerce.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent.

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nationalsecuritylaw United State v. Demirtas (D.D.C. Sep. 15, 2016) (guilty plea in IMU material support case)

September 16, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Irfan Demirtas, 57, a dual Dutch-Turkish citizen, pleaded guilty to providing material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Demirtas pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and is to be sentenced on Nov. 30 by U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss of the District of Columbia. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison and potential financial penalties. The plea agreement calls for Demirtas to be removed from the United States upon completion of his prison term.

On Dec. 8, 2011, Demirtas was charged in a sealed four-count indictment for conduct occurring from at least January 2006 through May 2008, when Demirtas was a resident of the Netherlands and acted as an IMU fundraiser and facilitator in Europe. In January 2015, Demirtas was arrested in Germany based on an Interpol red notice that had been issued on these charges. He was detained and then extradited to the United States on July 17, 2015.

According to the government’s evidence, the IMU is a militant Islamic group which was formed in 1991 with the stated purpose to overthrow the government of Uzbekistan and to create an Islamic state under Sharia law. Since its inception, the IMU has been conducting military operations in Uzbekistan and Pakistan and participated in combat operations against coalition forces in Afghanistan. The IMU was designated by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on Sept. 25, 2000.

Between January 2006 and May 2008, according to the government’s evidence, Demirtas acted on the IMU’s behalf in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Jordan, the Netherlands, France and elsewhere outside the United States. During this period, he provided, attempted to provide and conspired to provide personnel and funding to the IMU, knowing that it is a designated terrorist organization that has engaged and engages in terrorism. Specifically, Demirtas admitted in his plea to providing funds to the leader of the IMU.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael C. DiLorenzo and Ari M. Redbord of the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Brian K. Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ciancia (S.D. Cal. Sep. 6, 2016) (guilty plea in LAX shooting from 2013)

September 7, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – A Sun Valley, California, man pleaded guilty today to charges related to a 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in which he murdered a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of murder of a federal officer; two counts of attempted murder of a federal officer; four counts of violence at an international airport; one count of discharging of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death; and three counts of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, before U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the Central District of California.

“The 2013 murder of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez was a tragic and reprehensible act of violence,” said Attorney General Lynch. “With this guilty plea, the Department of Justice is making clear that wrongdoers who target our nation’s brave law enforcement officers will be held accountable for their crimes. I want to thank the many federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who contributed to this critical investigation – including my colleagues in the ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service – and I want to once again express the Justice Department’s unwavering support for the brave men and women who wear the badge.”

“Our Transportation Security Officers put their lives on the line each and every day to keep the flying public safe,” said Secretary Johnson. “We still remember the awful day that Officer Gerardo Hernandez became known as the first slain-on-duty officer. Today’s threat environment demands that we all remain vigilant, and this guilty plea should remind everyone that if you harm one of our officers, you will be brought to justice.”

“The guilty pleas entered in court today will hopefully bring some justice to the victims of this horrific attack that senselessly ended the life of a federal officer and injured several others,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “Mr. Ciancia now faces a life-without-parole sentence in federal prison, ensuring he will be punished for his crimes and never again have the ability to harm other innocent people. Today’s guilty plea is also a reminder of the tremendous acts of bravery and heroism demonstrated by law enforcement at LAX on the day of the shooting. I commend the hundreds of law enforcement personnel from the Los Angeles Airport Police, the Los Angeles Police Department, the TSA, the FBI and many other agencies who responded to this incident, conducted a thorough and professional investigation and played a key role in reaching today’s resolution.”

“Mr. Ciancia’s guilty plea is a welcome development toward reaching justice for the victims of this violent attack, one of whom was murdered as he carried out his duties as a TSA officer, and several others who were wounded when Mr. Ciancia brutally targeted them with his weapon,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fike. “I’m proud of the JTTF members and prosecutors for their diligence over the past few years in getting to this point.”

According to the plea agreement, in early 2013, Ciancia purchased a semiautomatic rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition and 10 magazines for the rifle. On the morning of Nov. 1, 2013, Ciancia modified two pieces of luggage and zip-tied them together to conceal his loaded rifle inside.

Ciancia admitted that later that morning, he entered LAX Terminal Three, removed the loaded rifle from his modified luggage and fired at and killed TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez while he was checking passengers’ travel documents. Ciancia admitted that he then went upstairs to a TSA checkpoint, by which time many TSA officers and passengers had fled the airport. He fired his weapon at TSA Officers Tony Leroy Grigsby and James Maurice Speer as well as a civilian, Brian Ludmer, he admitted, all of whom sustained serious injuries and required surgery but survived the attack. According to the plea agreement, as Ciancia passed passengers hiding in or fleeing the terminal during the attack, he asked if they were TSA and when they said no, he passed without shooting at them.

The Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) investigated the case. The JTTF is led by the FBI and includes agents and officers from 45 other local, state and federal agencies.

The Los Angeles Airport Police; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; TSA; the Federal Air Marshal Service; the Los Angeles Port Police; the Long Beach, California, Police Department; the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Secret Service; the Los Angeles Fire Department; Los Angeles International Airport Operations; the U.S. Marshals Service; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations provided substantial assistance in the investigation.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick R. Fitzgerald of the Central District of California, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Mills of the Central District of California’s Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joanna M. Curtis of the Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime Section and Trial Attorney Michael S. Warbel of the Criminal Division’s Capital Crimes Section prosecuted the case.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. DeHaan (W.D.N.C. Aug. 31, 2016)

August 31, 2016

Ok, this one is not really a national security case in the sense used on this list. And yet I cannot resist forwarding it to the group, thanks to the priceless typo in the title of DOJ’s press release. Possession of an unregistered “fireman”!!!! J

Best,

Bobby

The press release:

NORTH CAROLINA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO TAX EVASION AND POSSESSION OF AN UNREGISTERED FIREMAN

WASHINGTON — A Kings Mountain, North Carolina, man, who set up straw companies to evade income taxes and used cash from his business to build an underground bunker, pleaded guilty today to tax evasion and possession of an unregistered firearm, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo, head of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose for the Western District of North Carolina.

According to documents filed with the court, Reuben T. DeHaan, 44, owned a holistic medicine business, which he operated out of his residence in Kings Mountain under the names Health Care Ministries International Inc. and Get Well Stay Well. DeHaan admitted that, with the help of others, he set up straw companies and opened bank accounts in the name of the straw companies to hide his income and assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). DeHaan also admitted to dealing extensively in cash to evade the payment of income tax. During the years 2008 through 2014, DeHaan earned more than $2.7 million in gross receipts from his holistic medicine business, but failed to file income tax returns for those years and evaded approximately $740,000 in income taxes due and owing.

In addition to the tax evasion charge, DeHaan also admitted to possessing a short barrel rifle and two silencers that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. DeHaan faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the tax evasion charge and ten years in prison for the unregistered firearm charge, as well as a term of supervised release, and monetary penalties.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Rose commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Savage and Trial Attorney Mara Strier of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.