two more GTMO transfers

July 22, 2010

* two more GTMO detainees transferred out

DoD reports that it has transferred two more detainees from GTMO, one to Spain and one to Latvia. That brings the current population to 176.

United States v. Chesser (E.D. Va.)

July 22, 2010

* United States v. Chesser (E.D. Va.)

Zachary Chesser was arrested yesterday based on a criminal complaint alleging that he attempted to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, in violation of 18 USC 2339B (Al-Shabaab was designated an FTO in February 2008). The underlying FBI affidavit, which is attached, describes various attempts to travel to Somalia in order to join and receive training from Al-Shabaab as well as a variety of internet-related activities.

Note in case you are wondering why there is no charge under 18 USC 2339D, which forbids the receipt of military-style training from a DFTO:

18 USC 2339D prohibits the receipt of training, but for good or ill, it does not also cover attempts or conspiracies to receive training.

From the press release:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Fairfax County, Va., was arrested today on charges that he provided material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

On Feb. 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of State designated Al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as a violent and brutal extremist group based in Somalia with a number of individuals affiliated with Al-Qa’ida. This designation prohibits providing material support or resources to Al-Shabaab.

According to an affidavit filed in court, Chesser, aka Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, volunteered to federal agents that he attempted on two occasions to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab as a foreign fighter. After he was prevented from boarding a flight from New York to Uganda on July 10, 2010, Chesser allegedly admitted to agents that he intended to travel from Uganda to Somalia. Chesser had attempted to board the plane with his infant son, and court records allege that he brought his son with him as part of his “cover” to avoid detection of his intention to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

The court affidavit indicates that in a series of interviews with federal law enforcement, Chesser allegedly discussed in detail how he has maintained several online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda. These profiles were allegedly used by Chesser to post pro-jihad messages and videos online. These postings allegedly included an article detailing the prerequisites involved in leaving for jihad, which closely follows the steps Chesser took before his July 10 attempt to leave the United States in order to go fight in Somalia.


United States v. Rockwood (D. Alaska)

July 22, 2010

* United States v. Rockwood (D. Alaska)

Two “investigative offense” convictions, following plea agreements, in relation to a terrorism investigation in Alaska. Details from the press release appear below, and the plea agreements are attached:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler and FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Fryslie announced that Paul Gene Rockwood Jr., a former King Salmon, Alaska, resident, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to making false statements to the FBI in a domestic terrorism investigation. Rockwood’s spouse, Nadia Piroska Maria Rockwood, also pleaded guilty today to making false statements to the FBI in connection to the investigation of her husband.

At a hearing today before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, Paul Rockwood, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully making false statements to the FBI involving domestic terrorism. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Rockwood has agreed to a sentence of eight years in prison followed by three years of supervised released, the maximum penalty that can be imposed for this violation.

Nadia Rockwood, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully making false statements to the FBI. Under the terms of her plea agreement, she has agreed to a sentence of five years of probation.

According to the plea agreements and other documents filed with the court, Paul Rockwood converted to Islam in late 2001, or early 2002, while living in Virginia, and later became a strict adherent to the violent jihad-promoting ideology of cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. Paul Rockwood held a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam and, while residing in Virginia, he began researching possible targets for execution.

According to the filed documents, after he moved to King Salmon in 2006, Paul Rockwood continued his adherence to Al-Awlaki’s ideology and began researching the method and means to exact revenge on his intended targets, which included U.S. service members. Among other topics, he researched explosives and remote triggering devices. In 2009, he began sharing his ideas about committing acts of domestic terrorism with others, including the possibility of using mail bombs or killing targets by gunshot to the head. By early 2010, he formalized his list to include 15 specific targets all outside the state of Alaska.

In April 2010, Paul Rockwood gave his written target list to his wife, Nadia, who, knowing of its purpose, carried the list with her on a trip to Anchorage. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) subsequently obtained the target list. On May 19, 2010, JTTF agents questioned Paul Rockwood and provided him a copy of the target list. In response to agents’ questions, Rockwood made false statements, denying he had created such a list, denying the purpose of the list and denying ever having such a list.

JTTF agents also questioned Nadia Rockwood on May 19, 2010, about transporting the target list authored by her husband to another person. In response, Nadia Rockwood made false statements, including deceptively claiming that she had delivered a book or a common letter to another person, among other deceptive explanations.

Final P Rockwood Plea Agreement.pdf

Final Nadia Plea Agreement.pdf