nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Khan (W.D. Tex.) (material support to ISIL sentencing)

September 25, 2015

Here’s one from, well, right here. From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Rahatul Ashikim Khan, 24, of Round Rock, Texas, was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for attempting to provide material support and resources to terrorists.

On July 2, 2014, Khan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The conspiracy occurred between March 2011 and January 2012. During this time frame, Khan identified an individual in an Internet chatroom and began assessing that individual for overseas violent jihadist travel. That individual was actually an FBI confidential source. After Khan screened the confidential source, he made arrangements to insert him into an al-Shabaab pipeline controlled by Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed and Mohamed Hussen Said. Mohammed and Said both pleaded guilty to material support offenses in the Southern District of Florida and have been sentenced to terms of 15 years’ imprisonment respectively.

According to court records, Khan also led a group of individuals in the Austin, Texas, area who pledged loyalty to the now-deceased Taliban and terrorist leader, Mullah Omar. Michael Todd Wolfe, 24, was a part of Khan’s group. Wolfe was arrested by FBI agents on June 17, 2014 in Houston, as he was about to board a plane as a first step towards his goal of joining and fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Wolfe was sentenced to 82 months in prison for attempting to provide material support to ISIL.

“Rahatul Khan conspired to provide material support to terrorists by screening and recruiting potential foreign fighters located in the United States to wage violent jihad in various locations overseas, including Somalia,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“I would like to thank the men and women serving on the Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, who conducted an exceptional investigation in this case, and continue to work tirelessly, 365 days a year, to keep our community safe,” said Special Agent in Charge Combs.

This case resulted from a Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg N. Sofer and Michael Galdo of the Western District of Texas and Trial Attorneys Josh Parecki and Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Saleh (E.D.N.Y.) (ISIL material support case)

September 18, 2015

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – A criminal complaint was unsealed today in the Eastern District of New York charging Ali Saleh, 22, of Queens, New York, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Saleh was arrested earlier today at his residence in Queens and his initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann of the Eastern District of New York.

As set forth in court documents, in the last year, Saleh made multiple attempts to travel to the Middle East to join ISIL. In August 2014, he made a flight reservation to travel from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Istanbul. A few days earlier, Saleh used his Twitter account to post, “I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing.” Saleh was unable to travel at that time, but continued to pursue his goal of traveling overseas to join ISIL. For example, in July 2015, Saleh made a flight reservation to travel from JFK to Cairo. On the same day, Saleh used his Twitter account to communicate with an ISIL facilitator who instructed followers to contact him “for hijrah advice to IS in Libya ONLY.” Saleh was denied boarding at JFK Airport by airline personnel. Over the span of the next two days, Saleh subsequently continued his attempts to travel to the Middle East by visiting Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Philadelphia International Airport, where he was again denied boarding. Saleh then made his way to an Amtrak station in Cleveland in an attempt to take a train to Toronto and travel to the Middle East from there. In a subsequent interview with law enforcement officers, Saleh indicated that were he not arrested, he would have continued to attempt to travel to the Middle East.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Abdurahman (D. Minn.) (guilty plea ISIL material support)

September 18, 2015

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 20, of Columbia Heights, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to conspiring with at least eight other individuals to travel to Syria in an effort to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Abdurahman was initially charged by criminal complaint on April 20, 2015, and was subsequently indicted on May 19, 2015. Abdurahman pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of the District of Minnesota.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, between March and June 2014, Abdurahman became aware of individuals in the United States and abroad who had traveled or desired to travel overseas to join ISIL. Abdurahman joined this group of aspiring travelers with the understanding that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorism and terrorist activity. The defendant participated in several meetings throughout 2014 in which he and his co-conspirators discussed traveling to Syria to join ISIL, including how they would pay for such travel, what routes they could take from Minnesota to Syria to best elude law enforcement and the feasibility of using fraudulent travel documents to travel to Syria.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, by June 2014, Abdurahman knew that co-conspirator Abdi Nur had successfully traveled to Syria and that co-conspirator Abdullahi Yusuf had attempted to travel to Syria but had been stopped by law enforcement at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Nevertheless, Abdurahman continued to make preparations to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, on Nov. 6, 2014, Abdurahman and co-conspirators Mohamed Farah, Hamza Ahmed and Hanad Musse purchased bus tickets from Minneapolis to New York City, where they met at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). While at JFK, Abdurahman purchased a round-trip ticket to Athens, Greece, which he planned to use as a transit point from which to travel to Syria. After being prevented by federal agents from boarding his flight, Abdurahman lied to federal agents about the true nature of his travel.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, after their failed November 2014 attempt to fly overseas, Abdurahman and co-conspirators Farah, Musse and Ahmed met to discuss and coordinate false responses to anticipated law enforcement questions in an effort to conceal their intention to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, he continued to meet with his co-conspirators throughout the winter and spring of 2015 to discuss and plan another attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL. As a result of some of those meetings, Abdurahman willingly agreed to participate in a scheme to obtain false passports, travel from Minnesota to Mexico, and fly overseas to join ISIL using those false passports. On April 1, 2015, Abdurahman provided a passport photo of himself to an individual he believed would be traveling with him. Unbeknownst to the defendant, the individual was a cooperating human source (CHS). On April 3, 2015, Abdurahman asked the CHS for the return of his passport photograph, fearing the number of co-conspirators involved in the plot to leave the United States for Syria increased the probability of getting caught by law enforcement. However, Abdurahman admits that he did not withdraw from the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL when he sought return of the passport photo. Rather, Abdurahman was attempting to preserve the viability of his and his co-conspirators’ future travel to Syria. Abdurahman on April 3, 2015, further provided $100 in U.S. currency to the CHS as a down payment for co-defendant Farah’s false passport which the defendant knew would be used by Farah to attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Topaz (D.N.J.) (another ISIL-support guilty plea, this time a 21-year-old)

September 9, 2015

See the attached documents, and from the press release:

WASHINGTON – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

…Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton of the District of New Jersey to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to provide material support to ISIL. He remains detained without bail.

…According to documents filed in this case and related cases and statements made in court:

Topaz admitted that prior to his arrest by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) on June 17, 2015, he planned to travel overseas to join ISIL and had saved money for that purpose. Topaz discussed plans to join ISIL with Nader Saadeh, Alaa Saadeh and Munther Omar Saleh, and he admitted that at various times, each of them indicated that they wanted to join ISIL. Topaz also admitted that they all watched ISIL-related videos, some of which depicted the execution of non-Muslims and individuals regarded as apostates from Islam.

On May 5, 2015, Nader Saadeh departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL as part of the conspiracy, according to Topaz’s statements in court today. Topaz further admitted that he and others planned to travel overseas separately, meet up with Nader Saadeh and then travel together to join ISIL. After Nader Saadeh left the United States, Topaz met with Saleh and contacted Alaa Saadeh to discuss those plans.

Topaz admitted to knowing that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization taking over territory overseas, expelling non-Muslims from their homes and executing individuals who did not obey ISIL’s commands.

The count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a statutory maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2015.

Topaz’s alleged co-conspirators are being prosecuted and are currently in federal custody. Nader and Alaa Saadeh have been charged in separate criminal complaints brought in the District of New Jersey with conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, among other charges. Saleh has been indicted on terrorism-related charges brought in the Eastern District of New York. The charges and allegations against them are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topaz Plea Agreement.pdf

Topaz Information.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Musse (D. Minn.) (guilty plea in ISIL support case involving 19-year-old)

September 9, 2015

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Hanad Mustofe Musse, 19, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with at least eight other individuals to travel to Syria in an effort to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Musse was initially charged by criminal complaint on April 20, 2015, and was subsequently indicted on May 19, 2015. Musse pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis of the District of Minnesota.

As the defendant admitted in his guilty plea, between March and June 2014, Musse became aware of individuals in the United States and abroad who had traveled or desired to travel overseas to join ISIL. Musse joined this group of aspiring travelers with the understanding that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorism and terrorist activity. The defendant participated in several meetings throughout 2014 in which he and his co-conspirators discussed traveling to Syria to join ISIL, including how they would pay for such travel, what routes they could take from Minnesota to Syria to best elude law enforcement and the feasibility of using fraudulent travel documents to travel to Syria.

Musse also admitted in his plea that by June 2014, he knew that co-conspirator Abdi Nur had successfully traveled to Syria and that co-conspirator Abdullahi Yusuf had attempted to travel to Syria but had been stopped by law enforcement at the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, International Airport. Nevertheless, Musse continued to make preparations to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Between Oct. 20, 2014, and Nov. 6, 2014, Musse made five cash withdrawals from his federal financial aid account totaling $2,400. He deposited those funds in a personal checking account that he opened on Nov. 3, 2014. Musse later used those funds to purchase a bus ticket from Minneapolis to New York City.

As admitted by the defendant in his guilty plea, on Nov. 6, 2014, Musse and co-conspirators Mohamed Farah, Hamza Ahmed and Zacharia Abdurahman purchased bus tickets from Minneapolis to New York City, where they met at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). While at JFK, Musse purchased a round-trip ticket to Athens, Greece, which he planned to use as a transit point from which to travel to Syria. Musse knew that Abdurahman purchased a ticket on the same flight for the same purpose. After being prevented by federal agents from boarding his flight, Musse lied to the agents about the true nature of his travel.

The defendant admitted in his guilty plea that after their failed November 2014 attempt to fly overseas, Musse and co-conspirators Mohamed Farah, Abdurahman and Ahmed met to discuss and coordinate false responses to anticipated law enforcement questions in an effort to conceal their intention to travel to Syria to join ISIL.

Musse admitted in his guilty plea that he continued to meet with his co-conspirators throughout the winter and spring of 2015 to discuss and plan another attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL. As a result of some of those meetings, Musse willingly agreed to participate in a scheme to obtain false passports, travel from Minnesota to Mexico and fly overseas to join ISIL using those false passports. On April 6, 2015, Musse provided a passport photo of himself to a co-conspirator for the purpose of creating a fake passport. Unbeknownst to the defendant, the individual was a cooperating human source (CHS). When Musse’s family learned of his plan to travel, Musse requested the return of the photograph from the CHS. However, Musse admits that he did not withdraw from the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL when he sought return of the passport photo. Rather, Musse was attempting to preserve the viability of his and his co-conspirators’ future travel to Syria.

….