nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ferizi (E.D.Va. Jan. 27, 2016) (hacked charged with material support to ISIL arrives in US)

January 29, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Ardit Ferizi, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia on charges alleging that he provided mat erial support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and committed computer hacking and identity theft violations in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information (PII) of U.S. servicemembers and federal employees.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Michelle S. Klimt of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division made the announcement.

Ferizi, who was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the United States, was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015. The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015. Ferizi subsequently waived extradition.

If convicted, Ferizi faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Jacksonville Division. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Malaysian authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.

Advertisements

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hashi (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 29, 2016) (9 year sentence in al-Shabaab material support case)

January 29, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Mahdi Hashi, 26, a Somali national, was sentenced to nine years in prison by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendant traveled from the United Kingdom to Somalia to join the terrorist group. While in Somalia, the defendant was affiliated with the American jihadist Omar Hamami and his band of American fighters, as well as individuals associated with al-Shabaab’s suicide bomber program.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

As stated in court today and according to court documents, between approximately December 2009 and August 2012, the defendant served as a member of al-Shabaab in Somalia where he conspired to support al-Shabaab and its violent extremist agenda. In August 2012, the defendant was apprehended with others by local authorities in East Africa after he left Somalia, and then lawfully deported to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution in November 2012.

On Nov. 14, 2012, the FBI took custody of the defendant and brought him to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution. He, along with two codefendants, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2015.

“Hashi travelled to Somalia to join and fight on behalf of al-Shabaab in their foreign terrorist fighter ranks,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division remains committed to detecting, thwarting and bringing to justice those who seek to provide material support to and fight on behalf of designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“This defendant left his family and his adopted home in the United Kingdom behind so he could offer himself in support of al-Shabaab, a violent terrorist organization that has demonstrated its capabilities and motives in numerous terrorist attacks and that has publicly called for attacks against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to others who offer support to terrorist groups that pose a threat to the United States and our allies around the world.”

“Mahdi Hashi joined a foreign terrorist organization to be part of a group utilizing violence to fulfill their agenda,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “He now finds himself isolated behind bars due to the criminality of his activities. Through today’s sentence, we hope he can no longer be in a position to inflict, or support those who inflict, harm on others. The FBI, in cooperation with our JTTF partners, will continue to work to identify and interrupt those engaged in terrorist activities globally, and bring them to justice in the U.S.”

During the time of the charged conspiracy and thereafter, al-Shabaab successfully recruited individuals from around the world, including Hashi, to come to Somalia and join the organization. These individuals, known within al-Shabaab as “foreign fighters,” lived, trained and often fought alongside native Somali fighters. Al-Shabaab frequently made Western foreign fighters the face of its fundraising and propaganda efforts as part of a broader strategy emphasizing that the conflict in Somalia was part of a global jihad aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate. In addition, al-Shabaab assesses that Westerners have the potential to more easily cross certain international borders. Because al-Shabaab frequently employs suicide bombings, as it did in the Kampala, Uganda, attacks in 2010 resulting in 74 deaths, freedom of travel was and is particularly crucial to al-Shabaab’s external terror operations.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in thanking the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.

The government’s case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth D. DuCharme and Richard M. Tucker of the Eastern District of New York, along with Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided invaluable assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. al-Hamidi (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 19, 2016) (guilty plea in case involving attacks on US soldiers in Afghanistan)

January 20, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Ali Alvi al-Hamidi, 31, a Yemeni national, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to murder U.S. nationals abroad, conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and receiving military-type training from al-Qaeda. The guilty plea took place before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York. At sentencing, al-Hamidi faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office.

“Ali Alvi al-Hamidi went to the FATA to join al-Qaeda, received training from the terrorist organization, and later fought alongside the Taliban against coalition forces in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “With this plea, he will be held accountable for his terrorist activity, including conspiring to kill members of our military. The highest priority of the National Security Division is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to use all tools available to bring justice to those who seek to harm American servicemen and women who bravely risk their lives in defense of our nation.”

“Today’s significant guilty plea demonstrates this office’s unwavering commitment to bring to justice those who fight against U.S. forces or assist al-Qaeda and others in their efforts to kill Americans at home or abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Capers.

“As we witnessed today, those who support designated foreign terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and seek to harm people will be held fully accountable under the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “On a daily basis, the FBI and its partners face the challenge of an ever evolving threat environment. Through our partnerships, both international and domestic, the FBI continues to track down those who aid and abet terrorist groups and ensure that they are brought to justice.”

In early 2008, al-Hamidi traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan to join al-Qaeda. Once there, he received training from al-Qaeda in the use of weapons, explosives and detonators. During late spring and summer of 2008, al-Hamidi moved on to Afghanistan with Taliban forces for the purpose of fighting members of the U.S. military and coalition forces stationed there.

The defendant also aided Bryant Neal Vinas, a U.S. citizen, in joining al-Qaeda. Vinas traveled to Pakistan from Long Island, New York, hoping to join al-Qaeda and fight U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. After participating in al-Qaeda’s military training program, Vinas and senior al-Qaeda external operations leadership devised a plan to conduct an attack on the Long Island Railroad in New York. Vinas was arrested in 2008 before he could carry out this attack, and pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization. Vinas is currently incarcerated pending sentence.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in extending his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Michael P. Canty and Douglas M. Pravda of the Eastern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Josh Parecki of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

# # #


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ahmed (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2016) (material support sentencing)

January 15, 2016

See below for the press release:

WASHINGTON – Ali Yasin Ahmed, aka Ismail, 31, and Mohamed Yusuf, aka Abu Zaid, Hudeyfa and Mohammed Abdulkadir, 33, were each sentenced to 11 years in prison by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

As stated in court today and according to court documents, between approximately December 2008 and August 2012, the defendants served as members of al-Shabaab in Somalia, where they supported al-Shabaab and its extremist agenda. In early August 2012, the defendants were apprehended in East Africa by local authorities while on their way to Yemen. On Nov. 14, 2012, the FBI took custody of the defendants and brought them to the Eastern District of New York for prosecution. They pleaded guilty on May 12, 2015.

“Ahmed and Yusuf travelled to Somalia to fight on behalf al-Shabaab as part of the terrorist organization’s cadre of foreign fighters,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division remains committed to identifying, disrupting and holding accountable all who seek to provide material support to and fight on behalf of designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“These defendants left their adopted European homes to support al-Shabaab, a violent terrorist organization that has demonstrated its capabilities and motives in numerous terrorist attacks overseas and has publicly called for attacks against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Today’s significant sentences reflect the seriousness of the defendants’ criminal conduct and will serve as a strong deterrent to others considering the path to violence.”

“The guilty plea and sentencing of these men for providing material support to al-Shabaab, demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment and leadership in prosecuting persons whose intention is to violently assault societies different than their own,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “We remain steadfast in identifying and stopping such attacks. We will continue to work within the framework of the U.S. justice system to hold terrorists accountable for their malicious intentions and criminal actions. Special thanks to all our law enforcement and intelligence community partners on the JTTF, whose joint efforts keep us safe. We are also grateful for the international cooperation we received to bring these terrorism subjects to justice.”

The defendants, both naturalized Swedish citizens, traveled to Somalia intending to wage violent jihad on the U.N.-sanctioned African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government forces that were attempting to bring stability to that war-torn country. Once in Somalia, the defendants participated in numerous attacks on government forces. Yusuf is featured in an al-Shabaab propaganda video in which he encourages young men to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabaab and threatened a cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Mohammad. A third defendant, Madhi Hashi, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2016.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in thanking the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Seth D. DuCharme and Richard M. Tucker of the Eastern District of New York, along with Trial Attorney Annamartine Salick of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Trial Attorney Shanna Batten of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Dan Stigall of the National Security Division also provided invaluable assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Al-Yajab (E.D.Cal. Jan. 14, 2016) (indictment)

January 15, 2016

A week ago I posted on al-Jayab’s arrest, including the criminal complaint making a false statement charge. There is now an indictment, and despite my prediction of a material support charge there is still just a false statement charge. Looking over the allegations, it’s clear the government is alleging he provided material support to a terrorist organization…it is possible, of course, that the entity in question was not at that time on the State Department’s DFTO (Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization) list, thus precluding a 2339B charge. At any rate, I’ve attached the new indictment, and the press release is below:

CALIFORNIA MAN INDICTED FOR TERRORISM OFFENSE

WASHINGTON – A grand jury in Sacramento, California, returned an indictment today charging Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento, with one count of making a false statement involving international terrorism, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California announced.

Al-Jayab is in custody and is scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 22, 2016, at 2:00 PM PST before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman of the Eastern District of California. He was arrested by criminal complaint on Jan. 7, 2016.

According to the indictment, on Oct. 6, 2014, Al-Jayab was interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and indicated that he had not ever: been a member of any rebel group or militia; provided material support for any person or group engaged in terrorist activity; and been a member of a group, or assisted in a group, which used or threatened the use of weapons against others. Al-Jayab also allegedly stated during the interview that he had traveled to Turkey in late 2013 and early 2014 to visit his grandmother. The indictment alleges that all of the aforementioned statements are false.

If convicted, Al-Jayab faces a maximum statutory penalty of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Sacramento Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Thomas of the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The investigation is ongoing.

007.

Al-Jayab Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Jones (S.D.N.Y. Jan. , 2016) (indictment unsealed in al Shabaab material support/military training case)

January 11, 2016

The indictment and the original criminal complaint are attached, and the press release appears below.

Maalik Jones Complaint.pdf
Maalik Jones Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Pham (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 26, 2015) (guilty plea)

January 8, 2016

As anticipated in the New York Times today (per my earlier email), Pham has indeed pled out. The agreement is attached, and the press release is below. Note emphasis on Pham as an actual AQAP member.

MEMBER OF AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA

PLEADS GUILTY TO TERRORISM CHARGES

WASHINGTON – Minh Quang Pham, aka Amin, 33, pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to terrorism charges based on Pham’s efforts in support of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Pham was arrested in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2012, and was extradited to the United States on Feb. 26, 2015. Pham pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to AQAP, one count of conspiring to receive military training from AQAP and one count of possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.

The plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

“Minh Quang Pham provided material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and received explosives training from Anwar Aulaqi while in Yemen. With his guilty plea, he will be held accountable for his terrorist activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority, and we will continue to bring justice to those who seek to aid designated foreign terrorist organizations in their efforts to wage violent attacks against the United States and our allies.”

“As he has now admitted in an American court of law, Minh Quang Pham swore a terrorist’s oath to wage jihad for AQAP,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Pham traveled to Yemen to receive terrorist training, including instructions in bomb-making by the now-deceased senior AQAP leader Anwar Aulaqi. Vowing to wage violent jihad and brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle, Pham provided material support to the highest levels of AQAP. Now, all that awaits him is sentencing for his admitted acts of terrorism.”

“Defendant Minh Quang Pham sought and received military-style training from an al Qaeda affiliate with the intent to martyr himself and inflict harm on behalf of the group,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate. “He also attempted to inspire others toward violence through the preparation and dissemination of terrorist propaganda. This case and the subsequent extradition of Pham underscores the unwavering resolve of the FBI and our international law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue and capture dangerous terrorists anywhere in the world and bring them to face justice in the United States.”

According to the indictment, extradition materials and court filings, and statements made at related court proceedings, including today’s guilty plea:

In December 2010, after informing others that he planned to travel to Ireland, Pham traveled from London, where he resided, to Yemen, the principal base of operations for AQAP. Pham traveled to Yemen in order to join AQAP, to wage jihad on behalf of AQAP and to martyr himself for AQAP’s cause. After arriving in Yemen, he swore an oath of loyalty to AQAP in the presence of an AQAP commander.

While in Yemen in 2010 and 2011, Pham provided assistance to and received training from Anwar Aulaqi, a U.S.-born senior leader of AQAP. Aulaqi personally taught Pham how to create a lethal explosive device using household chemicals and directed Pham to detonate such an explosive device at the arrivals area of London’s Heathrow International Airport following Pham’s return to the United Kingdom in 2011.

During his time in Yemen, Pham also assisted with the preparation and dissemination of AQAP’s propaganda magazine, Inspire. Pham worked directly with a now-deceased U.S. citizen who was a prominent member of AQAP and responsible for editing and publishing Inspire. In addition, AQAP trained Pham in the use of a Kalashnikov assault rifle and provided him such a rifle, which he used in furtherance of his activities on behalf of AQAP in Yemen.

On July 27, 2011, Pham returned to the United Kingdom. Upon his arrival at London’s Heathrow International Airport, U.K. authorities detained Pham, searched him and recovered various materials from him, including various electronic media that contained computer files forensically identical to those possessed by a cooperating witness who had previously reported sharing electronic documents with Pham while they were in Yemen with AQAP. In addition, Pham was found to be in possession of a live round of .762 caliber armor-piercing ammunition, which is consistent with ammunition that is used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Pham was arrested in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2012, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, which then requested his extradition. Pham then challenged his extradition to the United States. On Feb. 3, 2015, a court in the United Kingdom denied Pham’s challenge and ordered him extradited to the United States. Pham arrived in the Southern District of New York on Feb. 26, 2015.

Pham faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only as the final sentence will be determined by the judge. Pham is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2016.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Bharara in praising the extraordinary investigative work of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed their gratitude to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force for the critical role it played in the investigation and prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their significant assistance, as well as the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service for their cooperation in the investigation, prosecution and extradition.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anna M. Skotko, Sean S. Buckley, Shane T. Stansbury and Ian McGinley of the Southern District of New York and Trial Attorneys Kelly Harris and Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Pham Plea Agreement.pdf