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.

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.