nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Omar (D. Minn.) (final sentencings for the nine total ISIL material support defendants in the Minnesota case)

November 17, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – The last three of nine men were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis for conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and for conspiracy to murder outside the U.S.

Guled Omar, 22, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was charged with one additional count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and one count of attempted financial aid fraud. Omar was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Mohamed Abdhihamid Farah, 22, of Minneapolis was charged with one additional count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, one count of perjury and one count of making a false statement. Farah was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 22, of Minneapolis was sentenced to 30 years in prison. All three defendants were also sentenced to lifetime supervised release.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.

“This case — culminating in the sentencings of nine young men in the last three days — demonstrates our commitment to disrupting those who would conspire to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “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.”

“ISIL remains one of the most dangerous terror organizations in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “The defendants sentenced today remind us that this ideology ruins the lives of those who ascribe to it. Omar, Daud and Farah will spend the next several decades in prison because of their unbreakable desire to kill on behalf of ISIL. I commend the agents and officers of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for continuing to keep Minnesotans safe.”

“The sentences handed down today reflect the true gravity of the defendants’ crimes to betray their country, travel overseas and ultimately join a terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of innocent people,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton. “We hope these sentences will serve as a strong message that those who support terrorism will face justice. The FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Force, remains dedicated to working with our community partners to disrupt threats posed by ISIL and their supporters.”

As proven at trial, between May 2014 and their arrests on April 19, 2015, these three defendants and their co-conspirators made multiple attempts to join ISIL in Syria. In May 2014, defendant Omar and two other members of the conspiracy made an attempt to join ISIL by traveling across the U.S. – Mexico border near San Diego. This planned failed when members of defendant Omar’s family prevented his travel.

Omar again attempted to join ISIL in Syria on Nov. 6, 2014, by first flying from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis to San Diego, California. Again, defendant Omar planned to cross the United States – Mexico border near San Diego and travel onward to Syria to join ISIL. Before he could board the flight in Minnesota, Omar was stopped at the airport and prevented from boarding the plane. In order to fund this second attempt to join ISIL in Syria, Omar intended to use federal financial aid provided to him by the U.S. Department of Education to attend college.

Also in November 2014, Farah was one of four co-conspirators to take a Greyhound bus to New York, New York, and attempt to board a flight to Europe. Farah’s ultimate destination was Syria, where he planned to join and fight with ISIL. Federal agents in New York prevented defendant Farah and his three co-conspirators from traveling.

In April 2015, Daud and Farah drove from Minneapolis to San Diego, where they intended to purchase fake passports, cross the border into Mexico and travel to Syria to join ISIL. Unbeknownst to them, the individual from whom they purchased the fake passports was a law enforcement officer and both were arrested by federal agents immediately after obtaining the phony travel documents.

Eleven Minnesotans have been charged as part of this conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL. The men are all associates and friends of one another. Six defendants pleaded guilty before trial and two, Abdi Nur and Mohamed Roble, joined ISIL in Syria.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led JTTF. JTTF includes members from the following departments: the U.S. Marshals Service, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bloomington Police Department in Minnesota, St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Federal Air Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Minneapolis Police Department, Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota, Department of State, the Airport Police, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter, John Docherty and Julie Allyn of the District of Minnesota, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Rahimi (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 16, 2016) (explosives charges against Rahimi for attempted NYC bombings in September)

November 16, 2016

Indictment attached, details below:

WASHINGTON—Ahmad Khan Rahimi aka Ahmad Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was charged today in Manhattan federal court in an eight-count indictment for offenses related to his alleged execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City on Sept. 17, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Mary B. McCord and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman for the Southern District of New York.

“Ahmad Khan Rahimi has been indicted in New York and separately charged in New Jersey for allegedly planting and detonating bombs that resulted in numerous injuries,” said, Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “It was through world class investigative work that the defendant was identified and arrested before he could do any more harm. Pursuing those who seek to conduct attacks on our homeland will always remain the highest priority of the National Security Division.”

“Two months ago, Ahmad Khan Rahimi allegedly planted bombs in the heart of Manhattan and in New Jersey,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “The bomb that exploded in Chelsea shattered windows hundreds of yards away and propelled a 100-pound dumpster over 120 feet, injuring over 30 people. Now indicted by a grand jury, Rahimi will face justice in a federal court for his alleged violent acts of terrorism.”

As alleged in the criminal complaint that was filed on Sept. 20 and the indictment that was filed today:

On Sept. 17, Rahimi transported two improvised explosive devices from New Jersey to New York. Rahimi placed one of the devices in the vicinity of 135 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York (the 23rd Street Bomb) and the other in the vicinity of 131 West 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood (the 27th Street Bomb).

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the 23rd Street Bomb – consisting of a high explosive main charge – detonated, causing injuries to over 30 people and multiple millions of dollars of property damage across a 650-foot crime scene. The injuries included, among other things, lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs and arms caused by flying glass; metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in skin and bone and various head injuries. The explosive components appear to have been placed inside a pressure cooker and left in a dumpster. The explosion propelled the more than 100-pound dumpster more than 120 feet. The blast shattered windows as far as approximately 400 feet from the blast site and, vertically, more than three stories high.

Shortly after the 23rd Street Bomb detonated, the 27th Street Bomb was located by law enforcement. The 27th Street Bomb, which failed to detonate, consisted of, among other things, a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone, likely to function as a timer, and packaged with an explosive main charge, ball bearings and steel nuts.

Earlier that day, at approximately 9:35 a.m., another improvised explosive device, which also was planted by Rahimi, detonated in the vicinity of Seaside Park, New Jersey, along the route for the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K race. The start of the race – which was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. – was delayed on account of other law enforcement activity.

On Sept. 18, at approximately 8:40 p.m., additional improvised explosive devices that Rahimi also planted were found inside a backpack located at the entrance to the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth. One of these devices detonated as law enforcement used a robot to attempt to defuse it.

On Sept. 19, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Rahimi was arrested by police in Linden, New Jersey. Rahimi fired multiple shots at police, striking and injuring multiple police officers before he was himself shot, subdued and placed under arrest. In the course of Rahimi’s arrest, a handwritten journal was recovered from Rahimi’s person. Written in the journal were, among other things, mentions of explosive devices and laudatory references to Usama Bin Laden, the former leader of al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, a former senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people in Foot Hood, Texas.

* * *

Rahimi is charged in the indictment with one count of using a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of bombing a place of public use, one count of destroying property by means of fire or explosive, one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, one count of interstate transportation and receipt of explosives and two counts of using of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.

The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

In addition to the pending charges in Manhattan federal court, Rahimi also has been charged in the federal court for the District of New Jersey in a complaint with offenses in connection with his alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park and Elizabeth and in New Jersey state court for attempted homicide of police officers during his arrest.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force. U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Lewin, Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis and Shawn G. Crowley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian K. Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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

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U.S. v. Ahmad Khan Rahimi Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ahmed (D. Minn. Nov. 15, 2016) (4th, 5th, and 6th of 9 ISIS material support defendants to be sentenced this week)

November 16, 2016

From the press release:

WASHINGTON – Six of nine defendants expected to be sentenced this week for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, have now been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Hamza Naj Ahmed, 21, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was charged with an additional count of financial aid fraud, and was sentenced today to 15 years in prison and 20 years supervised release. Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 20, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 20 years supervised release. Hanad Mustofe Musse, 21, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 20 years supervised release.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.

"Today’s sentences reflect the seriousness of these defendants’ crimes," said U.S Attorney Luger. "Although all three defendants pleaded guilty before trial, none were willing to cooperate with the United States. ISIL continues to target Minnesota’s Somali community. Only by working together will we succeed in ending this threat."

“The sentences handed down today reflect the true gravity of the defendants’ crimes to betray their country, travel overseas, and ultimately join a terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of innocent people,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton. “We hope these sentences will serve as a strong message that those who support terrorism will face justice. The FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Force, remains dedicated to working with our community partners to disrupt threats posed by ISIL and their supporters."

According to his guilty plea in May 2014, Ahmed applied for and later received federal financial aid, which he claimed would be used to attend Minnesota Community and Technical College. Instead, Ahmed used that money to purchase a Greyhound bus ticket from Minneapolis to New York City, New York, and airfare from New York that he thought would enable him to travel to Syria to join ISIL. He was stopped at JFK International Airport in New York by federal agents. Ahmed pleaded guilty on April 25.

According to his guilty plea, A. Farah participated in the conspiracy throughout 2014 and early 2015 in various capacities, including attempting to obtain a real passport to travel to Syria to join ISIL. When that effort failed, A. Farah provided money and a photograph in an attempt to obtain a false passport so that he could travel to Syria to join ISIL. A. Farah also aided Musse in his effort to obtain a false passport. A. Farah pleaded guilty on April 14.

According to his guilty plea, in November 2014, Musse traveled by Greyhound bus from Minneapolis to New York City where he joined three of his co-conspirators at JFK. While at JFK, Musse purchased round-trip airfare to Athens, Greece, with the intention of traveling onward to Syria to join ISIL. He was stopped at JFK by federal agents. Musse pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 2015.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF includes members from the following departments: the U.S. Marshals Service, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bloomington Police Department in Minnesota, St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Federal Air Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Minneapolis Police Department, Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota, Department of State, the Airport Police, IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter, John Docherty and Julie Allyn of the District of Minnesota, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Yusuf (D. Minn. Nov. 14, 2016) (ISIL material support sentences)

November 14, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – The first three of nine defendants expected to be sentenced this week for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, were sentenced today in three separate hearings in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Abdullahi Yusuf, 20, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, received time served and a sentence of 20 years supervised release. Abdirizak Warsame, 21, of Eagan, Minnesota, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and 20 years supervised release. Zacharia Abdurahman, 21, of Columbia Heights, Minnesota, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and 20 years supervised release,

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.

“The hard work of rehabilitating those who seek to engage in ideological violence must continue,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “Judge Davis recognized that fact today in his considered sentences for those defendants who cooperated with the government and have begun to disengage from ISIL’s violent ideology.”

According to his guilty plea, in April 2014, Yusuf applied for an expedited U.S. Passport at the Minneapolis Passport Office. The following month, Yusuf attempted to travel from the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis to Istanbul, Turkey, to join ISIL. He was stopped at the airport by federal agents. Yusuf pleaded guilty on Feb. 26, 2015. Yusuf cooperated with the U.S. and testified at the trial of three of his co-conspirators.

According to his guilty plea, Warsame participated in the conspiracy throughout 2014 and early 2015 in various capacities, including serving briefly as “emir” of the co-conspirators, and helping unindicted co-conspirator, Yusuf Jama, obtain contact information to aid his joining ISIL in Syria. Warsame pleaded guilty on Feb. 11. Warsame cooperated with the U.S. and testified at the trial of three of his co-conspirators.

According to his guilty plea, in November 2014, Abdurahman and three co-conspirators traveled by bus from Minneapolis to JFK airport in New York, where they attempted to fly overseas to join ISIL in Syria. They were stopped from flying and questioned by federal agents before returning to Minnesota. Despite being stopped from traveling in November 2014, Abdurahman and the co-conspirators continued to discuss and plan another attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL. Abdurahman pleaded guilty on Sept. 17, 2015.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF includes members from the following departments: U.S. Marshals Service, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bloomington Police Department in Minnesota, St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, Federal Air Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Minneapolis Police Department, Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota, Department of State, Airport Police, Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS and the FBI.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter, John Docherty and Julie Allyn of the District of Minnesota.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Daniels (S.D. Ohio Nov. 7, 2016) (ISIL material support arrest)

November 8, 2016

One interesting aspect of this one: the defendant was heading for Libya, not Syria….

WASHINGTON – Aaron Travis Daniels, aka Harun Muhammad, aka Abu Yusef, 20, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested today for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The arrest was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division and agencies participating in the Southern Ohio Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

JTTF agents arrested Daniels as he attempted to leave Columbus with an alleged eventual destination of Libya, for the purpose of joining ISIL. The criminal complaint against him also alleges that Daniels sent $250 in January 2016 to an ISIL operative and had communicated his commitment to violent overseas jihad.

The complaint alleges that Daniels set up email addresses and a social media account using aliases and expressed his interest in violent jihad and traveling overseas in various communications.

The complaint also alleges that Daniels wired money to an intermediary for Abu Isa Al-Amriki, a now-deceased ISIL member, recruiter and external attack planner. Daniels allegedly told an undercover FBI employee that he wanted to travel to Trinidad as the beginning of his trip to Libya, where Daniels said Al-Amriki had suggested he go to support jihad. On Nov. 5, Daniels bought an airline ticket to travel from Columbus to Houston, Texas, and on to Trinidad. The flight was scheduled to leave Columbus today.

JTTF officers arrested Daniels at the airport, before boarding his flight. Daniels appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp who ordered him held without bond.

If convicted of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Daniels faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Congress prescribes the maximum potential sentences and it is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. A federal criminal complaint merely contains allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The Southern Ohio JTTF is made up of officers and agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio State University Police Department, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the John Glenn International Airport Police Department, the Westerville Police Department and the Columbus Division of Fire.

Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the JTTF for its investigation of this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica W. Knight of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gibson of the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office, and Trial Attorneys Michael Dittoe and Taryn M. Meeks of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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2016 11 07 Daniels FS complaint.pdf