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


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Pham (S.D.N.Y.) (news report projecting announcement of plea deal today)

January 8, 2016

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times is reporting that Ming Quang Pham, extradited to the US from the UK last year on charges stemming from involvement with AQAP, may be pleading guilty later today. This would head off a trial that would have begun before Judge Nathan on February 1st. Ben’s story is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/09/nyregion/minh-quang-pham-britain-man-linked-to-yemeni-militants-plea.html?_r=0.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Marquez (C.D. Cal.) (indictment from last week, relating to San Bernadino)

January 8, 2016

Another one I missed around New Year’s:

Back on December 30th, a grand jury indicted a man previously arrested in connection with the San Bernadino attack. The indictment includes a firearm charge involving the weapons ultimately used in the San Bernardino tack, a material support charge (under the 1994 version, 18 USC 2339A) involving an earlier attack that never came to fruition, and various additional charges. The indictment is here (http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/809386/download), and the press release appears below:

Enrique Marquez Jr., 24, of Riverside, California, a longtime friend of Sayed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack, was named today in a federal grand jury indictment that charges him with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists.

Marquez was also charged today with two counts of making a false statement in relation to the purchase of two assault rifles that were used in the deadly shooting at the Inland Regional Center (IRC) on Dec. 2, 2015.

The five-count indictment additionally charges Marquez with marriage fraud and making a false statement on immigration paperwork in relation to an alleged sham marriage with a member of Farook’s family.

Marquez is currently being held in federal custody without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Jan. 6, 2016.

“Enrique Marquez Jr. has been indicted for his role in plotting terrorist attacks on American soil with Sayed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012, attacks which were, fortunately, not carried out. He is also charged with firearms violations for making straw purchases of weapons for Farook – weapons that were eventually used to carry out the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin. “This indictment is the next step in holding Mr. Marquez accountable. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the members of law enforcement involved in this ongoing investigation.”

“This indictment demonstrates that we will hold accountable all individuals who collaborate with terrorists in executing their plans," said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. "Defendant Marquez’s extensive plotting with Sayed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012 and his purchase of explosive powder and two firearms provided the foundation for the murders that occurred this month. This indictment is the result of sustained and coordinated efforts by many federal and state prosecutors, agents and officers, and I thank them for their efforts."

"Mr. Marquez is charged for his role in a conspiracy several years ago to target innocent civilians in our own backyard with cold-blooded terror attacks, and with providing weapons to an individual whose endgame was murder," said David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. "The covert nature of the defendant’s alleged actions is a stark reminder of the challenges we face in preventing attacks planned in the name of violent jihad, and underscores the critical need for those with knowledge about terror plots to come forward."

Today’s indictment charges Marquez with conspiring with Farook to provide material support and resources, including weapons, explosives and personnel, to terrorists, knowing and intending that such support was to be used in preparation for and in carrying out the use of fire or explosive to maliciously damage or destroy any institution or organization receiving federal financial assistance and property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

In addition to the conspiracy count, Marquez is charged with two counts of making a false statement when purchasing two assault rifles for Farook – a Smith and Wesson, model M&P-15 Sport, 5.56-caliber rifle that was bought on Nov. 14, 2001, and a DPMS, model A-15, 5.56-caliber rifle that was bought on Feb. 22, 2012 – which, according to an affidavit previously filed in this case, were used in the Dec. 2 attack on the IRC that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. Specifically, he is charged with stating on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form that he was the actual buyer, a statement that was, and which defendant knew to be, false.

The final two counts in the indictment allege that Marquez entered into a sham marriage with a member of Farook’s family in November 2014 and that on July 17, 2015, he signed an immigration form, under penalty of perjury, that he was living with the purported spouse in Corona, California, when he was not actually living there.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The charge of providing material support to terrorists carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. The charges of making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The marriage fraud count carries a statutory maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, and the charge of making a false statement on immigration paperwork carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Today’s indictment in the result of an ongoing investigation that is being conducted by several members of the Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force, including agents and detectives from the FBI; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; ATF; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; the Ontario Police Department and the Riverside Police Department. Several agencies are providing considerable assistance to the investigation, including the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and detectives with the Chino, California, Police Department; the Redlands, California, Police Department and the Corona Police Department. Additionally, 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.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Lutchman (W.D.N.Y.) (ISIL material support case from new year’s eve)

January 8, 2016

I missed this one when it came out on new year’s eve, but here it is now. It involves an alleged plot to carry out an attack in Rochester on New Year’s Eve, pursuant to direction from ISIL. Complaint attached, press release below.

Lutchman_filed_complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Kurbanov (25 year sentence for Uzbek citizen convicted on material support and explosive device charges)

January 8, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Fazliddin Kurbanov, 33, an Uzbek national, was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge of the District of Idaho for conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and possessing an unregistered destructive device.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson of the District of Idaho and Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Division made the announcement.

Judge Lodge also sentenced Kurbanov to a term of supervised release of three years and imposed a fine of $250,000. Kurbanov, who was convicted in August 2015 after a 20-day trial, will also face deportation proceedings at the end of his prison sentence.

“Fazliddin Kurbanov was sentenced for conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and procuring bomb-making materials in the interest of executing a terrorist attack on American soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Thankfully, the threat posed by Kurbanov was disrupted by the tireless efforts of the law enforcement community and its partners. Defending our nation from the threat of terrorism, whether at home or abroad, remains the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to harm to our country and our citizens.”

“The lengthy term of imprisonment imposed by the Court ensures that this defendant, who by his words and acts was intent on taking American lives, does not and will not pose any further threat to the safety and security of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Olson. “The investigation, prosecution, and now sentence in this case demonstrate the cooperative law enforcement effort by federal, state and local agencies to protect our national security and prevent acts of terrorism. I commend the men and women at every level of law enforcement and prosecution, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Ada County and Canyon County Sheriff’s Offices and the Boise City Police Department, who assisted in this effort.”

“The worst of intentions on the part of Mr. Kurbanov, that is the mass killing of Americans, were thwarted by the best of collaboration on the part of the entire law enforcement community,” said Special Agent in Charge Barnhart.

According to evidence presented at trial:

Between the summer of 2012 and his arrest in May 2013, Kurbanov, who was living in Boise, Idaho, communicated by email and Skype with a person or persons operating a website for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Kurbanov discussed with the website administrator his animosity toward Americans, particularly the military; his desire to build a bomb; possible targets in the United States, including military bases in Idaho and Texas; and his need for instruction on how to construct and remotely detonate a bomb. Additionally, Kurbanov searched for and later discussed with an FBI confidential human source targets including military bases in the United States, specifically West Point Military Academy in New York. The website administrator instructed the defendant to obtain a specific anti-virus software to protect the IMU’s website and to obtain and provide any amount of money. The defendant contacted his brother, who lived overseas, about obtaining the anti-virus software and he sent the software to Kurbanov. Shortly before his arrest, the defendant caused an Idaho corporation to open, through which he intended to funnel money to the IMU.

Between at least Nov. 15, 2012, and May 16, 2013, Kurbanov possessed bomb-making components at his Boise apartment, including a hollow hand grenade, a hobby fuse, ammunition containing smokeless powder, tannerite, aluminum powder, potassium nitrate, charcoal, yellow sulfur powder and fertilizer. He purchased these items during the summer and fall of 2012. FBI special agents observed the bomb-making components during a court-authorized search of Kurbanov’s apartment in November 2012 and seized many of the same items during a second court-authorized search in May 2013.

Kurbanov’s activities were closely monitored by federal agents during the investigation and no terrorist attack occurred.

During the sentencing hearing, an explosives expert provided evidence that the bomb-making components Kurbanov possessed were capable of causing significant harm. Prosecutors argued that these capabilities, coupled with Kurbanov’s many statements of hatred toward Americans and desire to kill them, warranted the lengthy sentence.

Kurbanov still faces a separate one-count indictment returned in May 2013 in federal court in Utah alleging that from about Jan. 14, 2013, continuing through Jan. 24, 2013, he taught and demonstrated how to make explosive devices, and distributed information relating to the manufacture and use of an explosive or weapon of mass destruction. His alleged intent was that the teaching, demonstration and information be used for and in furtherance of an activity that would constitute a federal crime of violence. The Utah indictment was returned in May 2013, at the same time as the Idaho indictment.

The Idaho case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from the Boise Police Department, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Ada County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Office and the Canyon County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron Lucoff and Heather Patricco of the District of Idaho and Trial Attorney Larry Schneider of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. al-Jayab (E.D. Cal.) (complaint filed in what will probably become a material support case)

January 8, 2016

No indictment in this one yet, but the criminal complaint is attached and press release appears below. It too involves a refugee from Iraq, and it too could become part of the larger refugee screening dialogue as a result. Note that the false-statement charge almost certain will be joined by material support charges if and when this moves on to an indictment.

Al-Jayab Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. al Hardan (S.D. Tex.) (indictment in ISIL material support case)

January 8, 2016

The indictment is attached, the press release below. Note this one involves a man admitted to the United States as a refugee from Iraq in 2009, and hence we might hear more about this one in the future as debates over refugee policy unfold.

Al Hardan Indictment.pdf