nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Aziz (M.D. Penn.) (charges in another ISIL support case)

December 18, 2015

And one more for today. Note that this one emphasizes the defendant’s alleged use of Twitter to advocate violence, both in general and in relation to specific individuals. There’s more, but that part of course stands out in light of recent public debate about how best to think about pro-ISIL speech online. At any rate, the complaint/affidavit are attached, and the press release is below:

PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT CHARGED WITH PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIL

WASHINGTON – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resident was arrested today on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 19, a U.S. citizen, is charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania following his arrest. His initial appearance will be at 4:30 p.m. EST in Harrisburg.

The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith of the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.

“According to the allegations in the complaint, Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz conspired to provide and attempted to provide material support to ISIL by propagating their hateful rhetoric on social media and aiding individuals in their pursuit of traveling overseas to join the designated foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “A prior physical search of Aziz’s residence also revealed a tactical-style backpack in his closet, which contained high-capacity weapons magazines, ammunition, a knife, and other survival items. The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold accountable any and all those who seek to provide material support to terrorists, and to disrupt potential attacks in the United States before they happen.”

“The charges in this case focus on Aziz’s efforts to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for the Islamic State,” said U.S. Attorney Smith. “These charges are a testament to the perseverance and dedication of those who stand watch over our nation and a clear message that those who support terrorism – will face justice.”

“The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) will move with speed to detect and disrupt those who are involved in facilitation or operational planning in support of a terrorist organization. There is no difference between the two, and we will aggressively pursue every threat in order to protect our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sweeney. “In this instance, Aziz operated quietly on behalf of the Islamic State and facilitated others looking to do the same.” Sweeney extended his appreciation to the Harrisburg-based members of FBI Philadelphia’s JTTF, and he encouraged anyone with concerns about suspicious behavior to contact appropriate authorities.

According to the complaint, Aziz has used at least 57 different Twitter accounts to advocate violence against the United States and its citizens, to disseminate ISIL propaganda and espouse pro-ISIL views. Aziz is alleged to have posted a hyperlink containing the names, addresses and other identifying information of 100 reported members of the U.S. military and calls for violence against them. Additionally, on at least three occasions, Aziz also allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL. In one instance, Aziz allegedly acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIL. According to the allegations in the complaint, Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between these ISIL supporters.

A prior search of a backpack located in Aziz’s closet identified five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines, a modified kitchen knife, a thumb drive, medication and a balaclava.

A criminal complaint is only a charge is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, and the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Philadelphia JTTF. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Robert Sander and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daryl Bloom of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

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Aziz Complaint.pdf

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Marquez (C.D. Cal.) (charges filed against alleged conspirator supporting the San Bernadino attack)

December 18, 2015

The complaint/affidavit document is attached, and the press release appears below. Note that the charge currently is 18 USC 2339A, which involves material support to a terrorist act, in contrast to a charge under 2339B which would involve material support to a specific designated foreign terrorist organization.

CALIFORNIA MAN CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO TERRORISM AND BEING ‘STRAW PURCHASER’ OF ASSAULT RIFLES ULTIMATELY USED IN SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA, ATTACK

WASHINGTON – Enrique Marquez Jr., 24, of Riverside, California, a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack, was charged today with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists based upon his role in terrorist plotting with Farook in 2011 and 2012, the unlawful purchase of the two assault rifles used in the deadly shooting two weeks ago and defrauding immigration authorities by entering into a sham marriage with a member of Farook’s family.

Marquez was arrested today by the FBI and is expected to make his initial court appearance later today in federal court in Riverside. Marquez was charged in a three-count criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with conspiring to provide material support – including personnel, firearms and explosives – to terrorists in 2011 and 2012; with making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms; and immigration fraud.

“Enrique Marquez Jr. is charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists for his role in plotting attacks on American soil in 2011 and 2012, attacks which were, fortunately, not carried out. He is also charged with a firearms violation for making a straw purchase of weapons for Syed Rizwan Farook – weapons that were eventually used to carry out the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “We will continue to investigate, and seek to hold accountable anybody found to be involved in, that heinous act. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the members of law enforcement involved in this ongoing investigation.”

“Mr. Marquez conspired with Mr. Farook to commit vicious attacks, as set forth in today’s charges,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California. “Even though these plans were not carried out, Mr. Marquez’s criminal conduct deeply affected San Bernardino County, Southern California, and the entire United States when the guns purchased by Marquez were used to kill 14 innocent people and wound many others. While there currently is no evidence that Mr. Marquez participated in the Dec. 2, 2015 attack or had advance knowledge of it, his prior purchase of the firearms and ongoing failure to warn authorities about Farook’s intent to commit mass murder had fatal consequences. Today’s charges are the result of exceptional work by many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, and I thank them for their tremendous effort so far in this case.”

“Many dedicated law enforcement personnel have worked around the clock and side by side with their Joint Terrorism Task Force partners to gather evidence and build a solid terrorism case against Mr. Marquez over the past two weeks,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “As we will continue to investigate the facts surrounding the terrible shooting in San Bernardino, we will leave no stone unturned in an effort to deliver answers and justice to the murdered victims and the families they left behind.”

The affidavit in support of the complaint provides details into parts of the exhaustive and ongoing investigation into the attack on Dec. 2, 2015, that killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center (IRC). The complaint does not allege that Marquez was involved in the terrorist attack at the IRC. The complaint does allege that Marquez purchased the AR-15-style rifles that were ultimately used in the shooting, that Marquez previously purchased explosive material that was ultimately used to construct a pipe bomb that was found at the IRC and that in 2011 and 2012, Marquez and Farook planned terrorist attacks in the Inland Empire, California, that ultimately were not carried out.

According to the affidavit, in approximately 2005, Marquez moved to Riverside, where he met Farook, who was his next-door neighbor. After their initial meeting, Farook introduced Marquez to Islam, and, in 2007, Marquez converted to Islam. Farook later introduced Marquez to radical Islamic ideology, which included expressing disdain towards Muslims in the U.S. military who killed other Muslims, as well as discussing the extremist views of the now-deceased imam and Islamic lecturer Anwar al-Aulaqi. Over the next few years, Farook provided Marquez with radical Islamic materials, and by 2011, Marquez spent most of his time at Farook’s residence listening to lectures and watching videos involving radical Islamic content. Those materials included Inspire Magazine, the official publication of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and videos produced by Al-Shabaab. In August 2011, Farook informed Marquez of his interest in joining AQAP in Yemen.

In late 2011, according to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook started planning to use firearms and explosives to carry out terrorist acts – attacks that Marquez told investigators were designed to maximize the number of casualties that could be inflicted. The affidavit recounts a recent interview with Marquez in which he admitted making plans with Farook to attack the library or cafeteria at Riverside Community College (RCC), where both men had been students. The plan allegedly was to throw pipe bombs into the cafeteria area from an elevated position on the second floor, and then to shoot people as they fled.

Marquez and Farook also planned to attack eastbound lanes of State Route 91 (SR-91) during afternoon rush hour, the affidavit states. Marquez told investigators that they chose a particular section of the freeway because there were no exits, which would increase the number of targets in the eastbound lanes. The plan was for Farook to throw pipe bombs on to the freeway, which they believed would disable vehicles and stop traffic. Farook allegedly planned to then move among stopped vehicles, shooting into them, while Marquez shot into vehicles from a position on a nearby hillside. Marquez allegedly said that he would watch for law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and his priority was to shoot law enforcement before shooting life-saving personnel.

According to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook took steps to carry out their plans by purchasing firearms, ammunition and other tactical gear, as well as going to local firing ranges. In late 2011 and 2012, Marquez allegedly purchased two firearms and portrayed himself as the actual purchaser of the rifles, when he was in fact buying the weapons for Farook as part of the plan to attack RCC and SR-91. According to the affidavit, Marquez told investigators that he agreed to purchase the weapons because “his appearance was Caucasian, while Farook looked Middle-Eastern.” Investigators have determined that on Nov. 14, 2011, Marquez purchased a Smith and Wesson M&P-15 Sport rifle for Farook. On Feb. 22, 2012, Marquez purchased a DPMS model A-15 rifle, according to records in the affidavit, which states that each rifle cost approximately $750.

Around the same time as he purchased the firearms for Farook, Marquez purchased explosives – specifically smokeless powder – “in furtherance of his and Farook’s plans to create bombs and commit mass killings,” according to the affidavit.

In the first half of 2012, Marquez and Farook allegedly continued to prepare for terrorist attacks by going to firing ranges to practice shooting guns and further discussing extremist ideologies. After 2012, Marquez allegedly distanced himself from Farook and ceased plotting with Farook for a variety of reasons, including the arrest of Ralph Deleon and others on material support for terrorism charges in November 2012.

The complaint affidavit alleges the following timeline of events based on the investigation to date. On the morning of Dec. 2, 2015, shortly after 9:00 a.m., Farook went to an event at the IRC and placed an item on a table. Following the shooting at the IRC, investigators discovered a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) on a table – a pipe bomb constructed out of three galvanized steel pipes and smokeless powder that was armed and ready to detonate. A subsequent search of Farook’s residence led to the discovery of smokeless powder that Marquez allegedly admitted purchasing in 2011 while planning terrorist acts with Farook. In addition, a remote control was found in the sports utility vehicle after Farook and his wife Tafsheen Malik were killed. In his interview with investigators, Marquez allegedly stated that the smokeless powder was purchased to be used in the construction of an “explosive device.” Marquez described his familiarity with the use of remote-control devices to detonate IEDs, and said he and Farook reviewed instructions on how to make IEDs that were in Inspire Magazine, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, subsequent investigation determined that on the morning of the shooting, a Facebook account associated with Malik searched for materials related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Shortly after the shooting, a post on a Facebook page associated with Malik said, “We pledge allegiance to Khalifa bu bkr al bhaghdadi al quraishi” which the affidavit alleges is a reference to the leader of ISIL.

After Farook and Malik were killed in the shooting that ended the pursuit, authorities recovered four firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Among the firearms recovered were the two rifles that Marquez allegedly purchased for Farook several years earlier. Forensic testing has confirmed that the two rifles were used in the attack on the IRC.

Four days after the attack on the IRC, Marquez met with law enforcement officials investigating the incident. Marquez admitted a series of statements that are detailed in the affidavit.

In addition to the charges related to the straw purchase of the rifles and the plans to commit terrorist attacks, Marquez is charged with defrauding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in relation to a sham marriage with a member of Farook’s extended family so that she could obtain legal status in the United States. In return for his participation in the fraud, she paid Marquez $200 per month.

The charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The charge of making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The charge of immigration fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If convicted, any potential sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This investigation is being conducted by several partner agencies that are part of the Los Angeles FBI’s Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force. Several agencies are providing considerable assistance to the investigation, including the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and detectives with the Chino Police Department; the Redlands Police Department; and the Corona Police Department. In addition, investigators have collaborated with sister task forces in the region and throughout the country, as well as with the intelligence community; foreign law enforcement partners; and various FBI Legal Attachés located overseas. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Marquez Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Elfgee (W.D.N.Y.) (guilty plea in ISIL support case)

December 17, 2015

Plea agreement attached, press release below:

NEW YORK MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE

MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIL

WASHINGTON – Mufid A. Elfgeeh, 31, of Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford of the Western District of New York.

The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. of the Western District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen of the FBI’s Buffalo Division.

“Mufid Elfgeeh pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIL through his various efforts to recruit individuals, raise funds and coordinate logistics for the designated terrorist group,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “ISIL’s horrific violence is waged against men, women and children, as well as against Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The National Security Division will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization.”

“Thanks to today’s convictions, one of the first ISIL recruiters ever captured in this country stands convicted of terrorism related charges,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “While our case against this defendant will conclude with a very long jail sentence, our ongoing efforts to defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups will continue until all are brought to justice. As it did in this case, the public should continue to report to law enforcement any suspicious individuals or activities and thereby hasten the demise of these killers.”

“Mufid Elfgeeh failed because law enforcement used its best weapon – unity,” said Special Agent in Charge Cohen of the FBI’s Buffalo Division. “Our success in this case is directly linked to the notion that we are stronger and more formidable working in concert with our community than standing alone. This approach, which has been embraced by our law enforcement counterparts and the intelligence community, must continue for us to prevail.”

According to the plea agreement and other court documents, Elfgeeh used social media to receive and disseminate information about foreign terrorist groups and their activities in Syria and other countries; to declare his support for violent jihad, ISIL and other foreign terrorist groups; to inspire and encourage others to engage in violent jihad and/or pledge allegiance to ISIL and other foreign terrorist groups; and to seek financial contributions to assist jihadist fighters.

From December 2013 through May 31, 2014, Elfgeeh actively recruited and attempted to send two individuals – referred to as Individuals A and B, both of whom were cooperating with the FBI at the time – to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIL.

Elfgeeh sent anti-American ISIL propaganda videos to Individual B and arranged for an English-speaking ISIL contact to communicate with Individual B over Facebook about the state of affairs in Syria. In addition, Elfgeeh paid more than $240 for Individual B to obtain a copy of his birth certificate, passport photographs and an expedited passport. Elfgeeh also purchased a laptop computer and a high-definition action camera for Individuals A and B to take to Syria. The defendant provided guidance to Individuals A and B about traveling so that they could avoid detection and the vetting process involved in joining ISIL. In May 2014, Elfgeeh arranged for an overseas contact to coordinate the logistics of the trip and the admission of Individuals A and B into ISIL-controlled territory in Syria.

According to the plea agreement and other court documents, Elfgeeh also sent $600 to an individual in Aden, Yemen, in an effort to assist that individual in traveling from Yemen to Syria for the purpose of joining and fighting on behalf of ISIL.

In addition, in March 2014, Elfgeeh communicated with a Syrian national who purported to be the military commander of a battalion of fighters located in Homs, Syria. At the time, the battalion was blockaded in Homs and needed military support, including ammunition, mortar shells and explosives that could penetrate armored vehicles, to break out. Elfgeeh facilitated communication and coordination between the battalion commander and ISIL leadership for the purpose of the commander and his battalion pledging their allegiance to and joining ISIL.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervised release. Elfgeeh’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. He has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on May 31, 2014. Sentencing is scheduled for March 17, 2016, in front of Judge Wolford.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brett A. Harvey and Frank H. Sherman of the Western District of New York, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Elfgeeh Plea Agreement.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Feight (N.D.N.Y.) (sentencing in terrorism support case involving KKK)

December 16, 2015

From DOJ’s press release:

UPSTATE NEW YORK MAN SENTENCED TO OVER EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR PROVIDING

MATERIAL SUPPORT TO TERRORISTS

Conspired to Modify Lethal Radiation Device to be Used to Kill Muslims in New York State

WASHINGTON – Eric J. Feight, 55, of Hudson, New York, was sentenced today to serve 97 months in prison for providing material support to terrorists.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Albany, New York, Division.

Feight pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2014, and admitted to helping Glendon Scott Crawford modify an industrial-grade radiation device intended to be used to kill Muslims in the Albany area. Feight also admitted he assisted Crawford by designing and building a remote initiation unit to allow the radiation device to be activated from a distance. Both men were arrested following an extensive federal investigation. Crawford, a self-proclaimed Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member, sought financial support for his plot from the KKK, and he and Feight later met with individuals they believed to be KKK financiers to advance their scheme to kill innocent Americans. Those individuals were actually FBI agents posing as businessmen connected to the KKK who were willing to support the scheme.

“Eric Feight aided Glendon Scott Crawford in altering a dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Feight and Crawford’s abominable plot to harm innocent Americans was thwarted thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement. The National Security Division’s highest priority continues to be combatting terrorism, and we remain ready to identify, disrupt and prevent terrorist threats, both domestically and internationally.”

“The sentence today highlights both the dangers we face when hatred and bigotry beget domestic terrorism and violent extremism, and our commitment to holding those who commit such crimes accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Hartunian. “No American – of any background – should have to live in fear of this kind of attack. This case illustrates the importance of vigilance by community members and an immediate, comprehensive investigation by our Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which thwarted the diabolical plan Feight supported. We must continue to counter messages of hate by empowering communities and emphasizing the inclusion on which our nation was founded – with local, state and federal law enforcement ready to stop any who refuse to heed that call.”

“Today’s sentencing is the result of the incredible efforts of our Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Special Agent in Charge Vale. “While we enjoy today’s success, it is important that we continue to gain the strongest possible understanding to allow us to better assess the terrorism threat and identify those who would go beyond hateful rhetoric and extremist views to commit violent, criminal acts.”

This case was investigated by the Albany FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen C. Green and Richard Belliss of the Northern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Elshinawy (D. Maryland) (arrest in ISIL material support case)

December 14, 2015

The criminal complaint is attached, and press release is below. Note that whereas many of these material support to ISIL cases involve individuals in the U.S. who attempted to travel abroad to fight in Syria or Iraq, and many others involve those providing support to such persons, this one involves allegations that the defendant had pledged allegiance to ISIL and was receiving funds from an overseas ISIL source in order to fund him in possible attacks here.

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, of Edgewood, Maryland, was arrested on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization; obstruction of agency proceedings; and making false statements and falsifying or concealing material facts. Elshinawy will have his initial appearance today at 2:45 p.m. EST before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner of the District of Maryland in Baltimore.

The criminal complaint was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Baltimore Division.

“According to the allegations in the complaint, Mohamed Elshinawy received money he believed was provided by ISIL in order to conduct an attack on U.S. soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “When confronted by the FBI, he lied in order to conceal his support for ISIL and the steps he took to provide material support to the deadly foreign terrorist organization. He will now be held accountable for these crimes. The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue and disrupt those who seek to provide material support to ISIL.”

“This case demonstrates how terrorists exploit modern technology to inculcate sympathizers and build hidden networks, but federal agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly and using every available lawful tool to disrupt their evil schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenstein. “The affidavit alleges that Mr. Elshinawy initially told the FBI that he was defrauding the terrorists, but further investigation showed that Mr. Elshinawy was supporting the terrorists and misleading the FBI.”

The affidavit filed in federal court alleges that in June 2015, the FBI became aware of an individual located in Egypt who was attempting to send money to the United States, possibly for nefarious purposes. The investigation revealed that on June 28, 2015, that individual wire transferred $1,000 to Elshinawy. The FBI interviewed Elshinawy on July 17, 2015. The affidavit alleges that Elshinawy first claimed that his mother had sent him the money, and then that the money was to purchase an iPhone for a friend. Later, he admitted that a childhood friend had contacted him a few months earlier to connect him, through social media, with an unidentified member of ISIL (referred to in the complaint as the “unidentified ISIL operative”). Elshinawy began communicating with the unidentified ISIL operative through a method of communication used by ISIL. The defendant also admitted that he understood the individual in Egypt who wire transferred the money on June 28, 2015, also to be an ISIL operative (referred to in the complaint as the “Egyptian ISIL operative”).

Elshinawy said that he had received a total of $4,000 in two payments –$1,000 through Western Union and $3,000 through PayPal – and that the ISIL operative instructed Elshinawy to use the monies for “operational purposes,” which Elshinawy understood to mean causing destruction or conducting a terrorist attack in the United States. Elshinawy stated that ISIL instructed him that if he ever came under surveillance by law enforcement, he should stop whatever activities he was doing in connection with executing an attack. Elshinawy claimed, however, that he never intended to carry out an attack and was only trying to get money from ISIL.

The affidavit further alleges that during a second interview with the FBI on July 20, 2015, Elshinawy stated emphatically that he received no other funds from ISIL other than the $4,000 he had previously disclosed. Later, however, Elshinawy said that he remembered receiving another payment of $1,200 from ISIL through PayPal, from the same unidentified ISIL operative, by order of a man in Syria. In this instance, Elshinawy explained that in order to receive the transfers from the unidentified ISIL operative, he engaged in a scheme by which he pretended to sell printers on eBay that would serve as a cover for the payments he received from ISIL.

A review of PayPal records indicates that Elshinawy allegedly concealed at least $3,500 of $7,700 that he received from ISIL operatives through his PayPal account between March and June 2015, specifically, $1,500 on March 23; $1,000 on April 16; $1,000 on May 1; $3,000 on May 14; and $1,200 on June 7. In total, Elshinawy allegedly received at least $8,700 from individuals he understood to be associated with ISIL.

According to the affidavit, Elshinawy used social media, multiple email accounts and “pay as you go” phones subscribed to him under various aliases to communicate with the individuals he understood to be associated with ISIL.

The social media communications between Elshinawy and his childhood friend were in Arabic, and many contained jihadist rhetoric found in ISIL- and other terrorist-related propaganda.

The investigation revealed that on Feb. 17, 2015, Elshinawy pledged his allegiance to ISIL and asked his childhood friend to deliver his message of loyalty. He stated that he was a soldier of the state, a common reference to ISIL, but temporarily away. Elshinawy also stated that his soul was over there with the jihadists and that every time he saw the news, he smiled. At the time of this conversation, ISIL recently had conducted a series of attacks and gained territory in Iraq. On Feb. 16, 2015, a video was publicly released showing the execution of 21 Egyptian nationals in Libya by ISIL extremists.

Also on Feb. 17, 2015, the childhood friend told Elshinawy to seek God’s help and not tell anyone his plans for a terrorist attack. Elshinawy agreed and acknowledged that it is a crime in the United States. He further declared his allegiance to committing jihad.

The investigation also revealed that on April 27, 2015, Elshinawy told his brother that he had pledged allegiance to ISIL and that he had received money from ISIL and expected to receive even more. In further communications with his brother in May 2015, Elshinawy stated his desire to die as a martyr for the Islamic State (ISIL), and in August 2015, he directed his brother to take steps to conceal their communications and any communications with the childhood friend, because Elshinawy believed his relationship with ISIL had been compromised.

Elshinawy’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. The maximum sentence of imprisonment for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization is 15 years; for obstruction of agency proceedings is eight years; and for making material false statements is eight years.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian of the District of Maryland, with the assistance of Trial Attorney John Gibbs of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Elshinawy Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Warsame (D. Minn.) (additional defendant in ISIL material support case)

December 10, 2015

From DOJ’s press release (see also attached complaint):

TENTH MINNESOTA MAN CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIL

Three Co-Conspirators Have Already Pleaded Guilty; Five Expected to Go to Trial in May 2016

WASHINGTON – Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan, Minnesota, was charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.

“Abdirizak Warsame conspired with others to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and to bring to justice those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“This defendant is the 10th Twin Cities’ man charged as part of a broad conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “The FBI and prosecutors in my office continue to work without pause to keep Minnesotans safe and bring these defendants to justice.”

“This arrest demonstrates the commitment to U.S. national security by the members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton. “The members of this task force work in concert to ensure the protection of the United States and its citizens every day. These efforts will continue as long as threats persist.”

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, in spring 2014, Warsame and his co-conspirators began meeting to watch propaganda videos that glorified religious violence and to discuss their aspirations to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Members of the group, including Warsame, discussed ways to leave the United States and travel to Syria, despite the fact that law enforcement was intensely scrutinizing the group. At one such meeting, Guled Omar was elected “emir,” or leader, of the group. Later in 2014, when Omar was planning to depart for Syria, Omar appointed Warsame to replace him as emir for the remaining co-conspirators.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, during the same period, Warsame provided $200 to a co-conspirator, Adnan Farah, so that Farah could obtain an expedited U.S. passport to travel overseas to join ISIL. Warsame also applied for an expedited passport during this time, but his application was initially denied.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, Warsame repeatedly attempted to obtain a telephone number or other contact information of ISIL members, including ISIL member H.K. In June 2014, Warsame specifically attempted to obtain this contact information so that he could pass it along to Y.J., who was attempting to travel from Turkey to Syria to join ISIL.

According to the complaint and documents filed in court, in April 2015, Warsame actively encouraged Omar and other co-conspirators to travel to Syria through Mexico, but did not plan to join their group because he was planning to travel with his family to East Africa. From East Africa, Warsame planned to either break free from his family and travel to Syria, or wait in Somalia for a time when, he believed, al-Shabaab would pledge allegiance to ISIL, thus expanding ISIL to Somalia.

According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, on April 2, 2015, Warsame recounted a conversation he had with Abdi Nur, before Nur left the United States for Syria. In that exchange, Warsame told Omar that he proposed to Nur that they rob people in order to finance their travel to Syria, which Nur rejected and suggested instead that they rob the government.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Minneapolis.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and John F. Docherty of the District of Minnesota and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Warsame Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Saadeh (D.N.J) (plea agreement in ISIL material support conspiracy case)

December 10, 2015

See the attached documents, plus the press release below:

WASHINGTON – A former resident of Bergen County, New Jersey, today admitted that he conspired to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey and Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI’s Newark Division.

Nader Saadeh, 20, a former resident of Rutherford, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton of the District of New Jersey in Newark to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to provide material support to ISIL. He remains detained without bail.

“Nader Saadeh conspired with others, including his brother, to travel to Syria to join ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“Nader Saadeh is the last of the three defendants charged in the District of New Jersey in this case to admit his role in trying to provide material support to a known terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “ISIL is intent on threatening the safety of Americans here and abroad, and we and our law enforcement partners are just as intent on stopping them.”

“Today in the District Court of New Jersey Nader Saadeh admitted he conspired to provide material to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said Special Agent in Charge Frankel. “He is one of three New Jersey men who conspired to travel overseas to join ISIL but were stopped by the outstanding work of the Newark FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. I ask the citizens of New Jersey to remain vigilant and contact the FBI if they see or hear something suspicious.”

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

Saadeh admitted that prior to his arrest on Aug. 10, 2015, by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), he planned to travel overseas to join ISIL along with others. Saadeh discussed his plans to join ISIL with his brother, Alaa Saadeh, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, Munther Omar Saleh and Fareed Mumuni, and admitted that at various times each of them indicated that they wanted to join ISIL. Saadeh also admitted that he and these other men watched ISIL-related videos, some of which depicted the execution of individuals – both Muslim and non-Muslim – regarded by ISIL as enemies.

On May 5, 2015, Saadeh departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL in furtherance of the conspiracy, according to his statements in court today. Saadeh admitted that once he reached ISIL-controlled territory he intended to fight on behalf of ISIL. Saadeh further admitted that Saleh assisted him by giving him a contact who would facilitate his travel from Turkey to ISIL in Syria.

Saadeh admitted that prior to his departure from the United States, Saleh showed him technical drawings for making homemade bombs. Saadeh further told the court that Saleh and Mumuni discussed plans to carry out an attack in ISIL’s name using homemade bombs at locations in New York City, including Times Square, the World Trade Center and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, in Queens, New York.

Saadeh admitted knowing that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization and was 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 maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2016.

Saadeh’s alleged conspirators are being prosecuted and are currently in federal custody. On Sept. 9 and Oct. 29, 2015, respectively, Topaz and Alaa Saadeh pleaded guilty before Judge Wigenton to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL. Saleh and Mumuni have been indicted on terrorism-related charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York. The charges and allegations against Saleh and Mumuni are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Fishman and Assistant Attorney General Carlin credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Frankel in Newark, and the JTTF with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. The JTTF is made up of agents and officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Paterson Police Department, and New York City Police Department, among other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Judson Welle, Dennis C. Carletta and Francisco J. Navarro of the District of New Jersey, with assistance from Trial Attorney Robert Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Nader Saadeh Information.pdf

Nader Saadeh Plea Agreement.pdf