nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Kaliebe (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2017) (13-year sentence in AQAP material support attempt case)

January 11, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Justin Kaliebe, 22, of Babylon and Bay Shore, New York, was sentenced to 13 years in prison and 20 years of supervised release with special conditions (including computer monitoring, a prohibition on contact with jihadists, search conditions, mental health treatment and a curfew, among others) following his guilty plea on Feb. 8, 2013. Kaliebe pleaded guilty to both counts of a felony information, which charged him with attempting to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(a), and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as Ansar al-Sharia (collectively, AQAP), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B(a)(1).

The sentencing was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers 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 New York City Police Department (NYPD).

"With this sentence, Justin Kaliebe is being held accountable for his attempt to travel overseas to join Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and engage in violent jihad," said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. "One of our highest priorities is to protect our country by identifying, disrupting and holding accountable those who provide or attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“This case is a sobering reminder that the call to violent jihad can reach deep into our local communities. Even when given the opportunity to abandon his plan to join al-Qaeda, this defendant made clear his intentions to commit himself fully to terrorism,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. “If not for the vigilance and commitment of our dedicated investigators, he might well have succeeded in empowering a dangerous enemy.” Mr. Capers expressed his sincere appreciation to all the members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the NYPD Intelligence Division for their work on the investigation.

“Providing material support to terrorists is a serious crime that should have serious consequences. Today’s sentencing of Justin Kaliebe shows just that. Kaliebe set out to provide material support to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2013 by attempting to travel to Yemen, after making plans months in advance. He didn’t get past JFK thanks to the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD Intelligence Division,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

“Kaliebe’s commitment to join al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was as alarming as it was sinister. And early in 2013, Kaliebe was arrested at John F. Kennedy airport trying to fulfill his dream of joining the jihad in Yemen. Thankfully, Kaliebe was met at the airport by NYPD detectives and FBI agents investigating his support of this terrorist group’s agenda. Thanks, as always, to those on the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District for their investigation of this case and many others,” stated Commissioner O’Neill.

According to the court filings, including sentencing memoranda, and evidence introduced during a sentencing hearing, Kaliebe attempted to travel from the U.S. to Yemen for the purpose of joining AQAP and waging violent jihad. During numerous meetings and recorded conversations and email correspondence with undercover law enforcement officers, Kaliebe explained that he had been searching for an opportunity to travel abroad and fight jihad for two years – long before Kaliebe first approached the undercover officers about his plans to join a terrorist group. Kaliebe repeatedly expressed his desire to travel to Yemen in order to join AQAP and to help carry out its violent extremist agenda.

Kaliebe also demonstrated extensive knowledge of terrorist organizations, including AQAP and al-Qaeda, and current and former leaders of those terrorist organizations. For example, Kaliebe referenced, and at times quoted, Anwar al-Awlaki, the now-deceased former member and senior leader of AQAP, as well as Omar Abdel Rahman (the “Blind Sheik”), Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, and Usama Bin Laden. Further, Kaliebe demonstrated detailed knowledge of various terrorist attacks that were carried out by AQAP in Yemen, as well as other attacks carried out by al-Qaeda around the world.

According to a June 4, 2012, recorded conversation, which was admitted into evidence during the sentencing hearing, Kaliebe observed that “the crime that they would charge people like us with” was conspiracy “to kill, maim and kidnap in foreign countries,” a reference to a federal criminal statute that has previously been used to charge other individuals who departed or attempted to depart the U.S. in order to fight jihad abroad. Later, during that same conversation, Kaliebe stated that, once he arrived in Yemen, he expected to fight the “Yemeni army” and “those who are fighting against the Sharia of Allah . . . whether it’s the U.S. drones or the, their puppets, in the Yemeni army . . . or, who knows, if American agents or whatever, U.S. Special Forces . . . who they got over there.” When asked if he was afraid to die, Kaliebe responded “I wanna . . . . It’s what anyone would want, any believer would want.” During another recorded conversation described in the government’s sentencing memorandum, which took place on July 9, 2012, Kaliebe stated that he had been inspired by several sheiks, including “Sheik Usama,” “who showed how he could bring an entire nation to its knees.”

Beginning in approximately July 2012, Kaliebe saved money to finance his travel to Yemen, which he then used to apply for and purchase a U.S. passport, and to purchase an airline ticket to Oman, from where he intended to travel by land to Yemen. During a recorded meeting on July 30, 2012, Kaliebe stated that he was saving money “as a means to go to Yemen to fight jihad.”

On Dec. 26, 2012, Kaliebe sent an email in which he swore his loyalty to the leaders of AQAP and al-Qaeda, respectively, writing, “I pledge my loyalty, allegiance and fidelity to the Mujahedeen of Al-Qaa’idah in the Arabian Peninsula and its leaders, Shaykh Abu Baseer Nasir Al-Wuhayshi and Shaykh Ayman Al-Zawahiri, hafidhahum Allah! May Allah accept this from me and may he allow me to fight in his cause til the day that I leave this dunya [this world].”

On Jan. 8, 2013, Kaliebe reaffirmed his commitment to jihad, telling an NYPD Intelligence Division undercover officer, in a recorded conversation, which was also admitted into evidence during the sentencing hearing, that he understood “there’s a way out, but for me, the only way out is [martyrdom].” Additionally, Kaliebe paid homage to several terrorist leaders, telling the undercover law enforcement officer that: “[My] standard is Abu Dujana. [M]y standard is Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi. My standard is Sheik Anwar Al-Awlaki and Sheik Usama, both who bore witness to the truth with their blood.”

Finally, Kaliebe stated, “Oh Allah, please allow me, please allow me and my brother…to fight jihad in your cause oh Allah. Oh Allah, please give us one of the two victories, victory on the ground or victory through [martyrdom.]”

On Jan. 21, 2013, Kaliebe’s efforts culminated in an attempt to board a flight to Muscat, Oman at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York. He was arrested at the airport by members of the FBI’s JTTF and the NYPD Intelligence Division. On Feb. 8, 2013, Kaliebe waived indictment and pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to AQAP and to attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Kaliebe’s co-conspirator, Marcos Alonso Zea, who also attempted to travel to Yemen to join AQAP. Once Zea’s own attempt failed, he assisted Kaliebe’s efforts to join the terrorist group. Zea was previously convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the Honorable Sandra J. Feuerstein.

The government’s case is being prosecuted jointly by the National Security and Cybercrime Section, and the Long Island Criminal Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth D. DuCharme and John J. Durham for the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Kelli Andrews of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Zafar (E.D. Va. Jan. 10, 2017) (deportation to US and arrest of suspect in shooting of US diplomat in Guadalajara)

January 10, 2017

From DOJ’s press release. Note the defendant is from California.

WASHINGTON – A U.S. national was deported from Mexico to the United States and arrested yesterday on a criminal complaint charging him with the attempted murder of a diplomat stationed at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Director Bill A. Miller of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) made the announcement.

Zia Zafar, 31, of Chino Hills, California, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person. Zafar made his initial appearance in federal court today and is scheduled for a detention hearing on Jan. 13, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson of the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 6, 2017, Zafar disguised himself and followed the Vice Consul of the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara through a parking garage to his vehicle. After the Vice Consul got into his car and drove towards the garage exit, Zafar allegedly shot him once in the chest and fled. The Vice Consul was taken to a local hospital, where he currently remains. Zafar was subsequently detained by Mexican authorities.

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

The FBI and DSS are investigating the case in close cooperation with Mexican authorities and with assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Trial Attorney Jamie Perry of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Sloan of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the government of Mexico, to include the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Procuraduria General de la Republica, Fiscalia del Estado de Jalisco and Instituto Nacional de Migracion for their extraordinary efforts, support and professionalism in responding to this incident.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ferrer (S.D. Fla. Jan. 7, 2017) (charges in Fort Lauderdale airport shooting)

January 8, 2017

The initial charges against Wifredo Ferrer include 18 USC 37 (violence at an int’l airport); 18 USC 924(c) (firearm in connection with crime of violence); and 18 USC 924(j) (same as 924(c) but including causing death by firearm).

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – An Alaska resident was arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint in connection with the deadly shooting of multiple victims at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on January 6, 2017.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) announce the arrest of Esteban Santiago Ruiz (Santiago), 26, based on a federal criminal complaint charging him with violations of: Title 18, United States Code, Section 37(a)(1), performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j), causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm in the course of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). The statutory charges authorize a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years.

Santiago will have his initial appearance Monday, January 9, 2017 at 11:00 a.m., before United States Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office expresses our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and to all of those impacted by yesterday’s tragedy. Our Office commends the first responders, civilians and law enforcement partners who came together to provide assistance to those in need and support the ongoing investigation,” stated U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “Today’s charges represent the gravity of the situation and reflect the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to continually protect the community and prosecute those who target our residents and visitors. As the investigation unfolds, we will continue to pursue all leads and evidence in this matter.”

“Our condolences are with the victims of this heinous crime and their families,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “I want to ensure these families that law enforcement is working tirelessly in order to ensure justice is served.”

According to the criminal complaint, on January 6, 2017, at approximately 12:56 p.m., Santiago was present in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he pulled out a handgun. The area was crowded with newly-arrived passengers retrieving their luggage. Santiago started shooting, aiming at his victims’ heads until he was out of ammunition. Santiago killed five people and wounded six more. Moments later, Santiago was confronted by a BSO deputy. He dropped his handgun on the ground and was arrested by BSO deputies.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ricardo A. Del Toro with assistance from Department of Justice Trial Attorney Larry Schneider.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Williams (E.D. Va. Dec. 22, 2016) (arrest in ISIL material support case)

December 22, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Lionel Nelson Williams, 26, of Suffolk, Virginia was charged today with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Williams was arrested yesterday in Suffolk.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Martin W. Culbreth of the FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia Field Office made the announcement.

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, in October and November 2016, Williams sent money to a person he believed was collecting money for ISIL to purchase weapons and ammunition for ISIL fighters. Williams also posted content on social media indicating his support for ISIL and attacks targeting police officers, military and armed civilians. In addition, the investigation revealed that Williams ordered an AK-47 assault rifle the day after the terror attack in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015. Two firearms, including a semi-automatic rifle consistent with the appearance of an AK-47, were recovered in a post-arrest search of Williams’ residence.

Williams faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. 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.

This case was investigated by the Norfolk Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Suffolk Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph E. DePadilla and Andrew C. Bosse for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Alicia Cook of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Demirtas (D.D.C. Dec. 20, 2016) (sentence in IMU material support case)

December 20, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Irfan Demirtas, 58, a dual Dutch-Turkish citizen, was sentenced today to 88 months in prison after earlier pleading guilty to providing material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The sentencing was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, 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 on Sept. 15, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plea agreement called for Demirtas to be removed from the U.S. upon completion of his prison term. The defendant was sentenced by the Honorable Randolph D. Moss. The sentence accounts for 62 months’ credit for time served in France.

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 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 U.S. 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. The IMU has conducted 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, 2001.

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 U.S. 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 was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael C. DiLorenzo and Ari B. 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.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Crawford (N.D. N.Y. Dec. 16, 2016) (30 year sentence in dirty bomb plot case)

December 19, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Glendon Scott Crawford, 52, of Galway, New York, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison and lifetime supervised release, for plotting to kill Muslims with a weapon of mass destruction.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Albany Divison.

On Aug. 21, 2015, following a week-long trial, a jury voted to convict Crawford on all charges of a 3-count indictment: attempting to produce and use a radiological dispersal device, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction. He is the first person in the U.S to be found guilty of attempting to acquire and use a radiological dispersal device, in violation of the “dirty bomb” statute passed by Congress in 2004. Senior U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe imposed today’s sentence.

"Glendon Scott Crawford is an extremist who planned to use a radiological dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will continue to pursue justice against anyone who seeks to perpetrate attacks against Americans on our soil. I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who worked on this case and are responsible for this result.”

“This case shows both the dangers we face from extremist views, and our resolve to stop those who plan to act on those views. Crawford planned to kill Muslims on account of their religion and other people whose political and social beliefs he disagreed with, including government officials. Our Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force prevented Crawford and his co-conspirator Eric Feight from carrying out their diabolical plan. Counter-terrorism is our highest priority, and we will continue to identify and hold accountable all those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders,” said U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

“Today’s sentencing is as much a victory for the community as it is for law enforcement. It is a powerful reminder of the strength and solidarity of our communities. When confronted with Crawford’s deadly intentions, concerned citizens came forward and alerted law enforcement of Crawford’s plans. While we enjoy today’s success, it is important that we continue in the diligent effort to identify and disrupt those who would go beyond hateful rhetoric to commit violent, criminal acts,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale.

The evidence presented at trial showed that in April 2012, Crawford approached local Jewish organizations seeking financial support for his plan to acquire a device to be used against people he described as being “enemies of Israel.” Crawford, a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan, drove from the Albany area to North Carolina to directly solicit funding for his plan from senior members of the Ku Klux Klan. Crawford was an industrial mechanic working in Schenectady, New York. His goal was to acquire and modify an industrial-grade x-ray radiation device and use it to cause death or injury by exposing people to lethal doses of ionizing radiation.

Crawford, with help from co-conspirator Eric J. Feight, took steps to design, acquire parts for, build and test a remote-control unit that would activate a radiation dispersal device from a distance. Evidence presented at trial showed that Crawford sought and eventually received a radiation dispersal device from people he believed were businessmen affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, but were, actually, FBI Special Agents acting in an undercover capacity. Before providing the device to Crawford, FBI Agents had rendered it safe.

Feight, acting at Crawford’s direction, built and delivered a remote-control unit. Crawford wanted the lethal radiation device to be used against Muslim Americans, and he scouted mosques in Albany and Schenectady, New York, and an Islamic community center and school in Schenectady, as possible target locations. Other targets considered by Crawford included the White House and the New York Governor’s Mansion in Albany.

Feight pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists. Judge Sharpe sentenced him to a 97-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes FBI Special Agents as well as members of the New York State Police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Albany Police Department, the Troy Police Department in New York and the New York City Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen C. Green and Richard D. Belliss of the Northern District of New York, who represented the U.S. during trial, and Senior Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Sullivan (W.D.N.C. Nov. 29, 2016) (guilty plea in ISIL-related case involving planned attacks in US)

December 6, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Justin Nojan Sullivan, 20, of Morganton, North Carolina, appeared in federal court in Asheville, North Carolina today and pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, 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. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over Sullivan’s plea hearing.

“Sullivan was in contact and plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders.”

“Sullivan admitted in court today that he attempted to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries by planning mass casualty shooting attacks on behalf of ISIL against innocent people in North Carolina and Virginia. Sullivan also admitted he had frequent and direct communications with Junaid Hussain, one of ISIL’s prominent members in Syria, who asked Sullivan to make a video of the deadly attack,” said U.S. Attorney Rose. “There is no more important work that we in the Department of Justice undertake than the fight against terrorism. It is frightening to know that the defendant in this case was able to use social media to contact and seek advice from ISIL, a murderous organization. Yet, it emboldens us to be fiercely aggressive and diligent in our efforts to combat this special kind of evil.” U.S. Attorney Rose added.

“Justin Sullivan planned to kill hundreds of innocent people. He pledged his support to ISIL and took calculated steps to commit a murderous rampage to prove his allegiance to the terrorist organization. There is no higher priority for the FBI than to thwart the next terrorist attack. This case is proof of what law enforcement agencies can accomplish to disrupt terrorist activities of any kind,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.

According to information contained in plea documents, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan watched violent ISIL attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, and collected them on his laptop computer. Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIL in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.

Beginning no later than June 7, 2015, Sullivan conspired with Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIL member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries, to plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia. Sullivan discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.

Court documents indicate that 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.

According to court records, 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. Court records show 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.

Filed documents indicate that over the course of Sullivan’s communications with Junaid Hussain, Hussain had asked Sullivan to make a video of his planned terrorist attack, to which Sullivan had agreed.

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, according to court records. 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.

In filed plea documents, Sullivan admitted that he took substantial steps towards carrying out terrorist attacks in North Carolina and Virginia by: (1) recruiting the UCE; (2) obtaining a silencer from the UCE; (3) procuring the money that would have enabled him to purchase the AR-15; (4) trying to obtain a specific type of ammunition that he believed would be the most “deadly”; (5) identifying separate gun shows where he and the UCE could purchase AR-15s; and (6) obtained coupons for the gun shows he planned for himself and the UCE to attend on June 20 or 21, 2015.

According to filed documents, on June 19, 2015, Sullivan was arrested at his parents’ home, where law enforcement also executed a search warrant for the silencer and other items. Law enforcement interviewed Sullivan on separate occasions following his arrest. Sullivan also provided false statements on his involvement in the murder of his neighbor, John Bailey Clark, who had been killed in December 2014. Sullivan later 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 Mr. Clark.

The grand jury alleged that Sullivan also killed Mr. Clark, but Sullivan did not admit to this act in his plea today. However, in the plea documents filed, the United States Attorney set forth evidence supporting this allegation and specifically reserved the Government’s right to prove this additional conduct at Sullivan’s sentencing hearing.

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. According to the filed plea agreement, Sullivan pleaded guilty to Count Nine of the Superseding Indictment, which charged him with attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Under the plea agreement, the parties have agreed that a sentence of life in prison is an appropriate sentence.

In making today’s announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord 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. Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord 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, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, the FBI’s Washington Field Office 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 R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism section.

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