nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Harroun (E.D. Va. Mar. 28, 2013) (US citizen prosecuted for fighting in Syria with AQI-related group)

March 28, 2013

The criminal complaint is available here (along with some commentary on the charges available in this case, and the background of the defendant). DOJ’s press release is below:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was arrested and charged with conspiring to use a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) while fighting with the al-Nusrah Front, an organization commonly referred to as “al Qa’ida in Iraq” and designated as a foreign terrorist organization since October 2004.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

Harroun, a U.S. citizen who served with the U. S. Army from 2000 to 2003, was charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to use a destructive device outside of the United States, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted. Harroun made his initial appearance today in federal court in Alexandria, Va., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan.

The al-Nusrah Front is one of several aliases used by the “al Qa’ida in Iraq” terrorist organization, and since November 2011 the group has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 terrorist attacks in Syria.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Harroun allegedly crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought with members of the al-Nusrah Front against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The affidavit alleges that Harroun was trained to use an RPG by members of the terrorist organization and that he fired an RPG and posted online multiple photographs of himself carrying or posing with RPGs and other military weapons. Harroun allegedly participated in attacks led by the al-Nusrah Front and was part of an RPG team, for which he carried anti-personnel and anti-armor rockets.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Peterson, Carter Burwell and Lynn Haaland are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States, with assistance from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on

nationalsecuritylaw DOJ OIG Report – audit of FBI’s Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force

March 28, 2013

This is interesting for those who want an overview of what the FTTTF is. Nothing too exciting in the findings or recommendations:

Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (Redacted Version), Audit Report 13-18

nationalsecuritylaw sorry for the formatting problem in last post

March 28, 2013

Well, as long-time subscribers know, once in a blue moon the listserv software scrambles a post. So it was with my effort to alert you just a moment ago to the upcoming symposium to be held on April 5 by the Harvard National Security & Law Society. Please check their website for more info about that. Sorry for the confusion!

nationalsecuritylaw upcoming event: Harvard National Security & Law Association,

March 28, 2013

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ahmed (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2013) (sentencing in al Shabaab case other than Warsame)

March 28, 2013

From DOJ’s press release:



NEW YORK, N.Y. — Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 111 months in prison for conspiring to provide material support to, and receive military-type training from, al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization based in Somalia, announced Preet Bharara, U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The U.S. Department of State has designated al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

U.S. Attorney Bharara said: “Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed traveled thousands of miles to align himself with al-Shabaab, to aid their campaign of terror and to learn their ‘ways of war.’ Today, his journey ends in prison and marks the latest victory in our constant effort to protect Americans from terrorism at home and abroad.”

According to the superseding information filed in Manhattan federal court and prior court filings:

Al-Shabaab has used violent means to destabilize the government of Somalia and to force the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. The group has recruited foreign fighters to join in its “holy war” in Somalia, resulting in men from other countries, including the United States, traveling there to engage in violent jihad. Al-Shabaab has also made numerous public statements demonstrating its intent to harm the United States.

In early 2009, Ahmed left his home in Sweden and traveled to Somalia in order to support and receive military-type training from al-Shabaab. While in Somalia, Ahmed contributed approximately 3,000 Euros to al-Shabaab, received training and instruction with respect to bomb-making and bomb-detonation, and purchased an AK-47 rifle, additional magazines and two grenades. Ahmed subsequently provided the rifle and magazines to an al-Shabaab military commander.

In addition to the prison term, an order of judicial removal was signed and Ahmed will be deported upon completion of his sentence. He was also ordered to pay a mandatory $200 special assessment.

Ahmed, 38, a native of Eritrea and a lawful resident of Sweden, was arrested in Nigeria in November 2009. On March 6, 2010, Ahmed was transferred to the custody of the United States and subsequently transported to the Southern District of New York for prosecution.

Ahmed pleaded guilty in June 2012 to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al-Shabaab) and one count of conspiracy to receive military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization (al Shabaab).

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York-based Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of special agents of the FBI and detectives of the New York City Police Department. He also expressed gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. Department of State for their extraordinary assistance in the case. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Governments of Sweden and Nigeria for their assistance in this matter.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis, John P. Cronan and Rachel P. Kovner are in charge of the prosecution.

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