nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ahmed (E.D. Va. Apr. 13, 2012)

April 13, 2012

From the DOJ press release:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jubair Ahmad, 24, a native of Pakistan and resident of Woodbridge, Va., was sentenced today to 144 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III.

“We’ve seen a sharp increase in terrorists’ use of social networking services like YouTube to reach a worldwide audience,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Jubair Ahmad was deeply committed to LeT’s violent aims, which he promoted through online propaganda, recruiting others and fundraising for the terrorist organization responsible for the deadly 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, which killed 160 people, including two Virginians.”

“The activities of Jubair Ahmad and his LeT associates provide insights into how terrorist organizations produce their propaganda,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “Today, Ahmad is being held accountable for providing this form of material support to LeT.”

“Mr. Ahmad directly supported the mission of a designated terrorist organization through his creation of online propaganda, fundraising and recruitment efforts. He is now being held accountable for those actions,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “The FBI will continue to pursue those who provide material support to terrorist groups, whether online or in person, and ensure that they are brought to justice.”

LeT, or “Army of the Pure,” serves as the military arm of the political movement Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad in Pakistan. The mission of LeT is to conduct and promote violent jihad against those considered to be the enemies of Islam. On Dec. 24, 2001, the U.S. Department of State designated LeT as a foreign terrorist organization. The focus of LeT operations has been attacks on the neighboring country of India, in particular the disputed region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India.

According to court records, Ahmad was born and raised in Pakistan, where he attended LeT training camps as a teen. In 2007, after receiving a visa from the U.S. Department of State, Ahmad moved from Pakistan to the United States with his family.

Ahmad pleaded guilty on Dec. 2, 2011, and admitted that in September 2010, while at his residence in Woodbridge, he engaged in a series of communications with an individual named Talha Saeed, who was in Pakistan. Talha Saeed is the son of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of LeT. Talha Saeed requested Ahmad to prepare a video that would contain a prayer by Hafiz Saeed calling for the support of jihad and the mujahideen. In addition, Talha Saeed instructed Ahmad to present a variety of violent images on the video while Hafiz Saeed’s prayer is heard in the background.

Talha Saeed directed Ahmad to begin the LeT video with a number of pictures of Hafiz Saeed, then show scenes where atrocities have been inflicted on Muslims, followed by the activities of the mujahideen conducting attacks in Kashmir. At one point, Ahmad asked Talha Saeed if he wanted to include an image of the Mumbai attack to show the power of LeT. This is a reference to LeT’s operation against the city of Mumbai, India, on Nov. 26, 2008, which resulted in the death of over 160 people, including six Americans. Talha replied that he should not use anything referring to Mumbai.

Ahmad admitted that Talha Saeed told him to search for “Lashkar-e-Taiba” on YouTube to find additional images of mujahideen operations to include in the video. Talha Saeed further stated that the video will be popular in Pakistan and will run continuously on significant media programs and presentations.

On Sept. 25, 2010, Ahmad completed the LeT video and uploaded it to a YouTube account on the Internet. The next day, Ahmad sent a communication to another person overseas in which he explained that “Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed” had requested him to prepare the video. Forensic examination by the FBI subsequently confirmed that Ahmad had constructed the LeT video on his computer.

At sentencing, the government also presented evidence that Ahmad, while in the United States, also conspired to recruit others to attend LeT training camps, conspired to raise funds for LeT and expressed his intention to return to Pakistan to complete the LeT commando training course and be launched on a martyrdom mission.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen M. Campbell and Neil Hammerstrom from the National Security and International Crimes Unit of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney John T. Gibbs from the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division in the U.S. Department of Justice are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Mehanna (D. Mass. Apr. 12, 2012)

April 13, 2012

From DOJ’s press release:

BOSTON – A Sudbury, Mass., man, who was convicted last year on charges that he conspired to kill Americans, was sentenced today to 17.5 years in federal prison.

Following a two-hour hearing in U.S. District Court in Boston, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., sentenced Tarek Mehanna, 29, to 210 months, to be followed by seven years of supervised release. In December 2011, Mehanna was convicted by a jury, after 10 hours of deliberation, of four terrorism-related charges and three charges related to providing false information to the government.

Following an eight-week trial, Mehanna was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda, providing material support to terrorists (and conspiracy to do so), conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, conspiracy to make false statements to the FBI and two counts of making false statements.

According to testimony at trial, Mehanna and co-conspirators discussed their desire to participate in violent jihad against American interests and their desire to die on the battlefield. The co-conspirators attempted to radicalize others and inspire each other by, among other things, watching and distributing jihadi videos. Mehanna and two of his associates traveled to the Middle East in 2004, seeking military-type training at a terrorist training camp that would prepare them for armed jihad against U.S. interests, including U.S. and allied forces in Iraq. One of Mehanna’s co-conspirators made two similar trips to Pakistan in 2002.

After returning to the United States, Mehanna continued his efforts to provide material support by, among other things, translating and posting on the Internet al Qaeda recruitment videos and other documents.

In December 2006, Mehanna was interviewed by federal authorities regarding a trip by Mehanna, Ahmad Abousamra and another individual, to Yemen in 2004. During that interview, Mehanna provided false information and made fraudulent and fictitious statements about the purpose of that trip and his relationship with co-conspirator Daniel Joseph Maldonado, aka Daniel Aljughaifi. Mehanna lied to the FBI concerning where Maldonado was living at the time and what Maldonado was doing. Just a few days prior to the FBI interview, Mehanna received a call from Maldonado, who was in Somalia receiving military-type training for jihad. Mehanna admitted in recorded conversations, that he had lied to the FBI about Maldonado’s whereabouts and training in Somalia. Mehanna also lied to the FBI concerning his trip to Yemen in 2004. Mehanna did, in fact, go to Yemen with Abousamra and another individual to conduct, and to subsequently engage in, jihad.

In 2007, Maldonado pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas, admitting that he had traveled from Houston to Africa in November 2005 and then on to Somalia in December 2006 to join the Islamic Courts Union and elements of al-Qaida to fight against the Transitional Federal Government to establish an independent Islamic State in Somalia. Maldonado was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the maximum statutory penalty for receiving military training from a terrorist organization.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) members: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs Border Protection, the Massachusetts State Police and the Lowell, Mass., Police Department, in addition to other members of the FBI’s JTTF. The JTTF includes officers and agents from a number of other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Auerhahn and Aloke S. Chakravarty of the Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and by Jeffrey Groharing, Trial Attorney with the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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nationalsecuritylaw upcoming event at Georgetown law: “Shadow Wars” panel next Thursday April 19, at 3:30 pm

April 13, 2012

The Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law

and the

Journal of National Security Law and Policy

Cordially invite you to a lively discussion of the Journal’s newly-published issue

"Shadow Wars"

Opening Remarks by

William C. Banks

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of National Security Law & Policy

Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University college of Law

Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Author of the Journal Article Shadow Wars

Featured authors and panelists:

Laura Dickinson

Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School

Author of the Journal article Outsourcing Covert Activities

Louis Fisher

Scholar in Residence, The Constitution Project

Former Specialist in Constitutional Law, Library of Congress

Author of the Journal article Basic Principles of the War Power

John Prados

Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Iraq Documentation Project

Director of the Vietnam Project at the national Security Archive at The George Washington University

Author of the Journal article The Continuing Quandary of Covert Operations

Scott Shane

National Security Reporter, Washington Bureau, The New York Times

moderated by

Laura Donohue

Associate Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

3:30 pm

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hart Auditorium

Georgetown University Law Center

600 New Jersey Avenue

Washington, DC 20002

Reception To Follow

RSVP to rsvp2.

Please contact nationalsecurity with questions.

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hasbarjrami (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 13, 2012) (guilty plea)

April 13, 2012

From DOJ’s press release:

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Agron Hasbajrami, 27, an Albanian citizen and resident of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York before U.S. Judge John Gleeson to attempting to provide material support to terrorists. At sentencing, Hasbajrami faces up to15 years in prison. As a condition of his plea, Hasbajrami has agreed to be deported from the United States.

The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI, New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

According to court documents, Hasbajrami attempted to travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) for the purpose of joining a radical jihadist insurgent group. In addition, Hasbajrami sent more than $1,000 in multiple wire transfers abroad to support terrorist activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In pursuing his goal of violent jihad, Hasbajrami exchanged email messages with an individual in Pakistan who told him that he was a member of an armed group that had murdered American soldiers.

In order to preserve the secrecy of their communications, Hasbajrami and the individual used multiple email addresses to disguise their correspondence. In one email message, Hasbajrami stated that it was difficult to ask for money from fellow Muslims because they became apprehensive “when they hear it is for jihad.” In another email, Hasbajrami stated that he wished to travel abroad to “marry with the girls in paradise,” using jihadist rhetoric to describe his desire to die as a martyr.

On Sept. 5, 2011, Hasbajrami purchased a one-way airline ticket to travel to Turkey the following day. Based on Hasbajrami’s email communications, he intended to travel from Turkey to the FATA to join a jihadist group. On Sept. 6, 2011, Hasbajrami was arrested at an international departures terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. At the time of his arrest, Hasbajrami was carrying a tent, boots and cold-weather gear. Following his arrest, a search of Hasbajrami’s residence revealed, among other items, a note reading “Do not wait for invasion, the time is martyrdom time.”

“The defendant reached across the ocean from Brooklyn to Pakistan, seeking out terrorists in the hopes of becoming one. Once he found what he sought, he pledged his money, his energy, and the end of his own life to the goal of spreading terror abroad. As this case demonstrates yet again, law enforcement in New York and across the United States have the vigilance, capability and skill to catch terrorists before they strike,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch. “We will continue to bring to justice those who intend to harm Americans and hold them accountable for their actions.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk said, “The defendant has admitted to attempting to provide material support to terrorists, but this entailed much more than the money he wired overseas. If not for his arrest, he would have traveled to Pakistan to wage jihad and aim to kill American soldiers. Our mission includes not only preventing acts of terrorism here but also preventing would-be terrorists from going abroad to harm Americans.”

“The plea demonstrates that Brooklyn is no place from which to launch terrorist aspirations without the good chance of being captured and prosecuted,” Police Commissioner Kelly said. “Vigilance paid dividends again.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth D. DuCharme and Matthew S. Amatruda, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Courtney Sullivan of the Department of Justice Counterterrorism Section.