nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Diaz (S.D. Fla.) (another sentencing in an ISIL-related case)

July 28, 2015

A busy week for ISIL-related cases: This one involves a 10-year sentence on a gun charge, in a case in which DOJ is emphasizing the defendant’s interest in ISIL. Note that, once again, social media posts provided the tip-off, followed by interactions with a confidential source. From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Miguel Moran Diaz, 45, of Miami, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard of the Southern District of Florida to the statutory maximum term of 120 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, following his guilty plea for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

…“Miguel Moran Diaz was an armed, convicted felon who harbored sympathies for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro. “He called himself a ‘Lone Wolf’ for ‘ISIS.’ This is not a scenario where law enforcement can afford to wait and see what happens next. The FBI and our partners in the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated and disrupted this threat to South Florida.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, in late January 2015, Diaz came to the attention of the FBI due in part to Facebook postings in the name of “Azizi Al Hariri,” a photo of Diaz possessing a firearm and articles regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Thereafter, during a subsequent undercover operation, Diaz told an FBI confidential source that he was a convicted felon and could not purchase a firearm. Diaz asked the confidential source to purchase him a “baby Glock” (a small concealable semi-automatic firearm) and other weapons, in exchange for $500. Diaz proposed that he would arrange to have the guns “stolen” from the confidential source’s vehicle.

Diaz also advised that he already owned a number of weapons, including a rifle, handgun and a Ket Tec 2000 with a collapsible stock that he would use to conceal the firearm. Diaz showed the confidential source photographs of him holding firearms and also displayed a gun that was concealed in his vehicle.

On Jan. 30, 2015, during a meeting with the confidential source in Miami, Diaz described himself as a “Lone Wolf” for ISIS. Diaz indicated that he wanted to acquire a .308 caliber bolt action rifle and intended to scratch “ISIS” into the shell casings. Diaz claimed that after he killed people, authorities would find the shell casings and put the city on lockdown as they attempted to locate the sniper. Diaz also used his iPhone to view Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP’s) Inspire Magazine website in order to learn how to build bombs.

On Feb. 8, 2015, the confidential source again met with Diaz in Miami in order to conduct target practice with loaded firearms.

On March 20, 2015, the confidential source asked Diaz if he would like to purchase any additional ammunition. Diaz stated that he had approximately 500 rounds of ammunition at his residence,but wanted to purchase 500 additional rounds if the price was good.

On April 2, 2015, the FBI executed a warrant and found Diaz driving a vehicle while in possession of a .40 caliber handgun loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition and a magazine containing 15 addition rounds. A search of Diaz’s residence revealed an additional Kel-tec 2000, .40 caliber rifle and approximately 200 to 300 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition.

nationalsecuritylaw update on the future of this listserv

July 28, 2015

Hi folks,

As you probably have noticed (especially those of you who have been on this list going back a full decade), I’ve been struggling for some time with the question of whether to continue to keep this listserv operational. The original goal was to provide a way to stay on top of the endless stream of developments in the national security law field, at a time when there were no websites like Lawfare and Just Security to perform that function. Well, now they do exist, and my assumption is that most of you read those sources in order to keep up with things. What, then, to do with the listserv?

I’ve decided I will keep it going, but with a somewhat narrower focus than in the past. In particular, I will focus (at least for a time) on the sort of posts that I’ve been sending out lately: those relating to criminal prosecution in terrorism-related cases. These arrests, convictions, sentences, and the like often go by with relatively little mainstream media attention, and do not always generate blog attention either. And so I’ll commit to continue to post briefly about them here. With this narrowing of focus, I do hope to make the list more active (goodness knows that current events are supplying ample content).

Note that I will no longer be in the business of flagging upcoming events or forthcoming/recent scholarship (two former mainstays of the list, both of which I’ve largely stopped posting already). That said, I hope you’ll forgive me if, on rare occasions, I succumb to the temptation to mention my own scholarship or events I’m hosting!

By the way, if you are wondering how many of you there are: 1,193 subscribers at this time.



Robert Chesney (website)

Charles I. Francis Professor in Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs | The University of Texas School of Law

Director | The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law (website)

512.232.1298 | Twitter: @bobbychesney | Blog: | Scholarship: SSRN page

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Davis (D. Ga.) (15 year sentence in ISIL material support case)

July 28, 2015

And another one from the ISIL prosecution files… From the DOJ press release:

Leon Nathan Davis, 37, of Augusta, Georgia, was sentenced today to 15 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge J. Randal Hall of the Southern District of Georgia for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Davis pleaded guilty to an information charging him with attempting to provide material support to ISIL on May 27, 2015. His prison term will be followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

…Evidence produced at the guilty plea and sentencing hearings revealed that for more than a year, an FBI-led team investigated Davis’ attempts to join an overseas designated foreign terrorist organization. Davis was arrested at the Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson Airport in October 2014 on a parole violation, after he had purchased a ticket to fly to Turkey and then traveled from Augusta to the Atlanta airport. Davis has been in custody since his arrest.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Tarver commended the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles for their work on this case. Carlin and Tarver also expressed gratitude to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service and the Atlanta Police Department for their contributions to the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie Bourne and Nancy Greenwood of the Southern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Clement McGovern of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Suarez (S.D. Fla.) (arrest and criminal complaint in case involving a “self-professed ISIL adherent”)

July 28, 2015

United States v. Suarez is the latest arrest in a remarkable series involving an individual in the United States identified as an ISIL supporter based on his social media posts, with the FBI then interacting with the person through a confidential source and culminating in a preventive arrest. Some of these cases are material support cases because the person is arrested while trying to make their way to Syria or Iraq. Others, like this one, involve a defendant allegedly prepared to carry out an attack in the United States itself. The criminal complaint is attached, and details from the DOJ press release appears below:

WASHINGTON – Harlem Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, 23, of Key West, Florida, was charged by a criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

“According to the complaint, Harlem Suarez, a self-professed ISIL adherent, knowingly attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction – a backpack bomb – in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Stopping attacks on our homeland by those inspired or directed by designated foreign terrorist organizations is the highest priority of the National Security Division.”

“The top priority of the Department of Justice is to protect the security of the American people,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with the FBI, works tirelessly to advance this mission by continuing to thwart home-grown acts of terrorism.”

“There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro. “The FBI and our local, state and federal partners work around the clock to prevent such catastrophic weapons from being used against our citizens. Even so, we ask the public to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

According to the complaint, in April 2015, Suarez came to the attention of the FBI due to Facebook posts that contained extremist rhetoric and promoted the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The complaint further alleges that Suarez told the confidential source that he wanted to make a “timer bomb.” Suarez purchased components for this device, which was to contain galvanized nails, be concealed in a backpack and be remotely detonated by a cellphone. Suarez intended to bury the device at a public beach in Key West and then detonate it.

On July 27, 2015, Suarez took possession of an inert device and was arrested.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Key West Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc S. Anton and Karen E. Gilbert and Trial Attorneys Clement McGovern and Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.

A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Suarez Complaint.pdf

nationalsecuritylaw heads-up regarding the supplements for National Security Law and Counterterrorism Law casebooks

July 28, 2015

Dear friends,

A note from our colleague Professor Steve Vladeck, alerting everyone that the supplement for the Dycus, Banks, Raven-Hansen, Vladeck casebooks (National Security Law and Counterterrorism Law) is now available. Steve writes:

Dear Colleagues:

One of the most exhilarating (and terrifying) things about teaching national security law is how thoroughly the field changes from year to year (and, lately, from month to month). To that end, I wanted to flag the 2015-16 Supplement to a pair of casebooks of which Steve Dycus from Vermont Law School, Bill Banks from Syracuse, Peter Raven-Hansen from George Washington, and I are the co-authors. As the attached front matter indicates, this year’s version (ISBN: 978-1-4548-5916-1) includes nearly 500 pages of material updating the fifth edition of National Security Law(published in 2011), and the second edition of Counterterrorism Law (published in 2012), over two-thirds of which is new as compared to last year.

Although folks should check out the Table of Contents for complete details (and the Teacher’s Guide for how the new materials supplement or supplant what’s in the latest casebooks), some of the highlights of the 2015-16 Supplement include detailed treatments of (and teaching materials for):

  • The Executive Summary of the SSCI Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program;
  • The updated Department of Defense Law of War Manual;
  • The Second Circuit’s May 7 decision in ACLU v. Clapper;
  • The Supreme Court’s June 8 decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry;
  • The D.C. Circuit’s June 12 decision in al Bahlul v. United States;
  • The Second Circuit’s June 17 decision in Turkmen v. Hasty;
  • Passage of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, and the FISA Court’s important interpretation thereof in a June 29 opinion;
  • The ongoing debate over the legal authorities for the use of military force against ISIL; and
  • The continuing litigation arising out of the continuing detention of non-citizens at Guantánamo, including the conditions thereof.

Needless to say, keeping abreast of the ever-expanding universe that is U.S. national security law and policy can be quite daunting. To that end, we very much hope that teachers and students alike find these materials both accessible and pedagogically useful. As always, we welcome any and all feedback about what we can do better in future supplements–and in the next editions of the casebooks (on which we’re already hard at work).

For Steve, Bill, and Peter, I am, sincerely yours,


Stephen I. Vladeck

Professor of Law

American University Washington College of Law

4801 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Room 350

Washington, DC 20016

Phone: (202) 274-4241 | E-Mail: svladeck


Twitter: @steve_vladeck

NSL-CTL 2015-2016 Supplement FM.pdf