nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Hester (W.D. Missouri Feb. 21, 2017) (new Islamic State material support case)

February 22, 2017

Details from the press release:

WASHINGTON – Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr., 25, of Jefferson City, Missouri, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Hester was charged in federal court based on his role in making preparations to launch a terrorist attack with persons he believed were associated with ISIS, who were actually undercover law enforcement personnel.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson for the Western District of Missouri and Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office.

“As alleged in the complaint, Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr. attempted to provide material support to ISIS by participating in what he believed would be a deadly attack committed in the name of the foreign terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Countering terrorist threats remains the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue our efforts to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders.”

“First on social media, then during face-to-face meetings with an undercover FBI employee, this defendant repeatedly expressed his intent to engage in acts of violent jihad against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Dickson. “He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims. He readily participated in the preparations for an attack, provided materials and resources for an attack and voiced his intent to carry out an attack. I commend the FBI for protecting the public from a security threat.”

“Terrorism knows no demographic boundaries and remains the FBI’s top priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Jackson. “The arrest of Hester is the culmination of an extensive FBI investigation and demonstrates the challenges law enforcement faces in identifying individuals intent on causing harm.”

Hester, who remains in federal custody, was arrested on February 17, when he arrived at an arranged meeting with an undercover law enforcement employee. The criminal complaint was signed on Sunday and made public today, when Hester made his initial court appearance.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, throughout the investigation, Hester expressed his interest in and exhibited his willingness to commit violence in support of ISIS – and he attempted to provide material support to ISIS by assisting in what he believed would be a murderous terrorist bombing and gunfire attack committed in the name of the foreign terrorist organization.

Hester is a U.S. citizen who was born in Missouri. He was enlisted in the U.S. Army for less than a year, receiving a general discharge from service in mid-2013.

FBI agents undertook a review of Hester’s publicly available posts on multiple social media accounts in September 2016. On Oct. 3, 2016, Hester was arrested by the Columbia, Missouri, Police Department in an unrelated case and remained in state custody until he was released on bond on Oct. 13, 2016. His bond conditions included electronic monitoring. While Hester was being monitored, FBI undercover employees maintained regular contact with him via an encrypted messaging app and text messages, and met with him on several occasions.

On January 24, Hester pleaded guilty in state court to property damage and unlawful use of a weapon and was released on his own recognizance. Hester was no longer on electronic monitoring after that date. FBI undercover personnel continued to meet in person with Hester and communicate with him electronically.

Hester agreed to meet again with an FBI undercover employee on February 17. When Hester arrived for that meeting, he was arrested. Hester was the sole subject of this undercover investigation.

Undercover Investigation

According to the affidavit, the investigation began when the FBI became aware (through multiple confidential sources) of Hester’s social media posts, in which he expressed animus towards the U.S. and suggested an adherence to radical Islamic ideology and a propensity for violence. Hester used several online aliases, including “Mohammed Junaid Al Amreeki,” “Junaid Muhammad,” “Rabbani Junaid Muhammad,” “Rami Talib” and “Ali Talib Muhammad.”

On Oct. 3, 2016, Hester was arrested by Columbia police officers after an incident in the parking lot of a grocery store. Hester, who appeared to be in an argument with his wife, threw a folded pocket knife through a plate-glass window near the entrance of the store. When store employees confronted Hester, he assumed an aggressive stance and forcefully placed his hand into the diaper bag he was carrying in a manner that appeared to be reaching for a weapon. Police officers later recovered a 9mm handgun from the diaper bag. Hester was in custody until Oct. 13, 2016, when he was released on bond and placed on electronic monitoring.

On Oct. 15, 2016, two days after Hester’s release on bond, an FBI employee using an undercover identity contacted Hester by private message. The FBI employee had accepted a friend request from Hester the day before Hester was arrested for the grocery store incident. They continued to communicate via social media, text and an encrypted messaging app, the affidavit says, during which Hester presented himself as a security threat, stating, for example, that the U.S. government should be “overthrown,” and suggesting “hitting” the government “hard,” while noting that it would not be “a one man job.” Hester identified categories of potential targets for attack and said he wanted a “global jihad.” Hester stated that he was trying to find like-minded people to help. When the undercover employee mentioned “brothers,” Hester said he wanted to meet them.

Hester then established that he would act on the statements he made online. In early November 2016, the affidavit says, Hester made arrangements with the undercover employee – whom he never met in person – to meet with “one of the brothers.” The undercover employee arranged this meeting with another undercover FBI employee.

During a January 31 meeting, the undercover employee provided Hester with a list of items to purchase, including 9-volt batteries, duct tape, copper wire and roofing nails. The undercover employee implied that these items would be used to make bombs, the affidavit says, stating that those materials are needed “to make … things … to bring some kind of destruction.” Hester allegedly responded by stating: “I’m just ready to help. I’m ready to help any way I can.” When the undercover employee stated that what they were planning was “going to bring them to their knees … and then they gonna know to fear Allah,” Hester expressed his anticipation by stating: “I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”

Hester and the undercover employee agreed to meet again at Hester’s residence the next day. When the undercover employee arrived, the affidavit says, Hester gave him the items he had purchased. The undercover employee told Hester they were planning something “10 times more” than the Boston Marathon bombing, and Hester expressed his approval. The undercover employee told Hester that they were planning on “killing a lot of people.” The undercover employee told Hester that he could “walk away,” the affidavit says, but Hester said, “I’m down.” The undercover employee told Hester they were going to “wage all kinda war,” and Hester again expressed his approval.

The undercover employee then pulled back blankets in the back of the SUV to show Hester three AK-47 style rifles and two .45-caliber handguns. The undercover employee told Hester that, while they had plenty of firearms, they needed more ammunition. Hester stated that he could not purchase ammunition because of his state charges, but that he had a friend that could get ammunition for him. Hester stated that he would have money to purchase ammunition after he received his tax refund and after he was paid in a couple of weeks.

The undercover employee also opened a backpack, which contained pieces of pipe with end caps attached in the manner of pipe bombs, along with cord-like safety fuse, stating, “these are bombs right here.” The undercover employee explained that the duct tape Hester provided would be used to tape the bombs together, which Hester acknowledged, and that the nails Hester provided would “cut peoples’ heads off.” Hester responded: “Oh yeah. I know,” indicating that he understood the nails were to be used as shrapnel for bombs.

The undercover employee stated that they had more backpacks that they were going to put in different locations. Hester acknowledged that he understood, and stated that they had to be smarter than the Boston Marathon bombers. Hester again confirmed that he was “down,” the affidavit says, and that he understood they had to “lay low” and act in a manner to avoid detection.

The undercover employee stated that they were going to “strike fear in all these infidel hearts,” and Hester responded that he agreed and that he was ready.

According to the affidavit, Hester contacted the first undercover employee via text message on February 2, and indicated he would “have some more stuff … in a couple of weeks when I get paid.” Hester asked the undercover employee, “When you talk to the brother again let him know I’ll have some more gifts in a couple of weeks.”

On February 4, 6, 7, 11 and 16 Hester communicated with an undercover employee via an encrypted messaging app. Hester said that he was excited, that he was “happy to be part” of it, and that it was “time they answer for their atrocities.” Hester predicted that it was “going to be a good day for Muslims worldwide.” Hester asked how the “party plan” was coming along and reiterated that he would get more “supplies.” The undercover employee told Hester that the “party” would take place on Presidents’ Day and that the targets of the operation would include busses, trains and a train station in Kansas City. Hester said, according to the affidavit, that it felt “good to help strike back at the true terrorist.”

On February 17, Hester met again with the second undercover employee and brought two additional boxes of roofing nails. Hester accompanied the undercover employee to a nearby storage facility, where the two examined the security cameras. Hester was arrested shortly thereafter.

The charge contained in this complaint and the assertions in the supporting affidavit are simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian P. Casey and David Raskin, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Qamar (E.D. Va. Feb. 17, 2017) (8.5 year sentence in Islamic State material support case)

February 19, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke, Virginia, was sentenced today to 102 months in prison for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Qamar was also sentenced to 20 years of supervised release to be completed after his released from prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Division made the announcement after the sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

Qamar pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, 2016. According to court documents, in May 2016, Qamar and an FBI Confidential Witness (CW) discussed ISIL’s need for photographs of possible targets in and around Washington, D.C., for use in a video that ISIL purportedly was making to encourage lone-wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area. Qamar offered the CW ideas of what to photograph, including the Pentagon and numerous landmarks in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., which could be targeted for terrorist attacks. On June 3, 2016, a conversation was audio and video recorded when the CW picked up Qamar in a vehicle and drove to area landmarks on the list Qamar previously developed. Qamar said “bye bye DC, stupid ass kufar, kill’em all.” Qamar and the CW met again on June 10, 2016, and drove to a location in Arlington to take additional photographs for the purported ISIL video.

According to the statement of facts, during numerous conversations with the CW, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence associated with ISIL. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood, and beheadings. He recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered and he liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn. On several occasions, Qamar said he could slaughter someone and described how he would do it. Qamar also stated he admired lone-wolf attackers because they love Islam so much that they are willing to die as martyrs for Islam. In the same conversation, Qamar and the CW also discussed suicide bombings. The CW said the CW did not believe in suicide bombings, but Qamar responded, “I believe in it 100 percent.”

According to the statement of facts, on Sept. 11, 2015, terrorists connected with ISIL posted a “kill list” to the internet containing the names and addresses of U.S. military members. A few days later, Qamar told CW that the residences of several service members who appeared on the “kill list” were near Qamar’s home, and Qamar observed undercover police cars near those residences. On Sept. 16, 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer that Allah “give strength to the mujahideen to slaughter every single US military officer.”

Moreover, according to the statement of facts, on Sept. 25, 2015, Qamar told the CW that he tried to join ISIL in 2014, and purchased a plane ticket from Newark, New Jersey, to Istanbul, Turkey. Qamar, however, did not show up for the flight because his parents prevented him from doing so; Qamar’s parents took his passport. Qamar said his parents threatened to notify law enforcement and said he fought with his father and called his father a traitor to Islam. On Nov. 18, 2015, the CW asked Qamar if his father gave him back his passport, would Qamar travel overseas and join ISIL. In response, Qamar said if that happened, “I’m done, I leave.”

In a related matter, Soufian Amri, 32, of Falls Church, Virginia, and Michael Queen, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia, acquaintances of Qamar, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with obstructing justice and conspiring to provide material false statements to law-enforcement officers who were investigating Qamar.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case with assistance from Trial Attorneys Justin Sher and Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Haften (W.D. Wis. Feb. 17, 2017) (10-yr sentence in Islamic State material support case)

February 19, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Joshua Van Haften, 36, of Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison and lifetime supervised release for attempting to provide material support, namely himself as personnel, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil of the Western District of Wisconsin and Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division made the announcement. U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson handed down the sentence.

“With this sentence, Joshua Van Haften will be held accountable for attempting to travel overseas to join ISIL and to provide material support to the designated terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“Today’s sentence reflects the gravity of the defendant’s plan to betray the United States and to join terrorists dedicated to the murder of innocent individuals, both in the U.S. and abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Vaudreuil. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, working with our state and local partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, will continue to work to investigate, arrest, and vigorously prosecute all extremists who choose to aid ISIL, or any other terrorist organization, and to stop them before they harm the United States or our allies. We also remain committed to working with dedicated community members to bring this cycle to an end.”

“I commend the efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force which includes our local and state law enforcement partners who brought the defendant to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Tolomeo. “Protecting Americans from terrorism remains our top priority.”

Van Haften admitted that in 2014, he attempted to provide material support to ISIL, knowing that the organization was a designated terrorist organization that has engaged and engages in terrorism.

According to the government’s evidence, Van Haften traveled to Turkey in 2014 and attempted to cross into Syria. He posted online that he had taken an oath of allegiance to the leader of ISIL, and that “The only thing that matters to me is joining my brothers for the war against America [sic] liars.”

In addition to traveling to Turkey in an attempt to fight with ISIL, Van Haften tried to assist another American, Leon Davis, in joining ISIL. He attempted to meet Davis in Istanbul upon Davis’s arrival – actually waiting for Davis at a bus stop in Istanbul – and planned to travel with Davis to Syria to join and fight with ISIL.

Leon Davis, of Augusta, Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in July 2015, following his conviction in the Southern District of Georgia for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIL.

Van Haften was arrested at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois in April 2015, after his arrival in custody on an international flight from Turkey. He has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

The charge against Van Haften is the result of an investigation by members of the FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force which include the FBI; the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin; and the University of Wisconsin Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Marquez (C.D. Cal. Feb. 14, 2017) (guilty plea in material support / San Bernadino-linked case)

February 15, 2017

From DOJ’s press release (plea agreement attached below):

WASHINGTON – Enrique Marquez Jr., 25, of Riverside, California – longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack – agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker for the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. Marquez entered into a plea agreement that was filed today in U.S. District Court. The defendant is scheduled to enter his guilty pleas this Thursday at 12:00 p.m. EST, 9:00 a.m. PST before U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal.

“With this plea, Enrique Marquez Jr. will be held accountable 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,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Marquez also admitted to making a false statement as part of his straw purchases of weapons for Farook – weapons that were eventually used to carry out the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Holding those who threaten our national security and public safety accountable will always be the highest priority of the National Security Division and I want to thank all of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

“This defendant collaborated with and purchased weapons for a man who carried out the devastating December 2, 2015 terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people, wounded nearly two dozen, and impacted our entire nation,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “While his earlier plans to attack a school and a freeway were not executed, the planning clearly laid the foundation for the 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center. When this defendant pleads guilty, all four individuals charged, including three of the shooters’ family members, will be convicted. Everyone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office – and everyone across the Department of Justice and the broader law enforcement community – brought their expertise, dedication, and tireless effort to bear on this investigation. We are, and will continue to be, deeply committed to pursuing the prosecution of everyone who was even remotely related to the San Bernardino attack. As these criminal cases begin to resolve, we hope that the victims of the attack and the community of San Bernardino are comforted in some small way by the knowledge that the Department of Justice and the law enforcement community stands with them in this investigation, resolute and committed to justice.”

“Defendant Marquez purchased two of the weapons used in the San Bernardino terror attack to murder 14 innocent people and seriously injure 22 others – a horrific act which led to great suffering and a lifetime of pain for the survivors and for the loved ones of those murdered,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fike. “Defendant Marquez provided these weapons to his associate, Syed Rizwan Farook, with whom he conspired to plot chilling terror attacks. I’m gratified that this guilty plea will spare the victims and the San Bernardino community from having to relive the gruesome details of the attack during what would likely be a lengthy trial.”

According to the plea agreement, Marquez agreed to plead guilty to providing material support and resources to terrorists, including weapons, explosives and personnel. Marquez admitted in the plea agreement that he conspired with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to attack Riverside City College (RCC) and commuter traffic on the 91 Freeway. Marquez also agreed to plead guilty to making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm for being the “straw buyer” of two assault rifles that were used in the shooting rampage at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC) on Dec. 2, 2015.

Marquez was arrested about two weeks after the attack at the IRC, which was perpetrated by Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who were killed in a shootout with law enforcement hours after the attack. The investigation into the deadly shooting quickly uncovered evidence that, in 2011 and 2012, Marquez purchased two rifles that Farook and Malik later used in the attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the IRC. A law enforcement officer was also wounded during the shootout that afternoon.

According to the plea agreement, Farook paid Marquez for the rifles. Marquez also discussed with Farook the use of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the planned attacks on the RCC and State Route 91. Marquez purchased Christmas tree lightbulbs and a container of smokeless powder for use in manufacturing IEDs.

Once he pleads guilty, Marquez will face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison. Marquez, who did not personally participate in the attack on the IRC, has remained in custody since he was ordered detained at his initial court appearance in this case on Dec. 17, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Today’s plea agreement is the result of an investigation by members of the Inland Empire FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force in California, including agents and detectives from the FBI; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; the Chino Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; the Riverside Police Department; the Ontario Police Department; the Redlands Police Department; and the Corona Police Department.

Also, as a result of the investigation into the IRC attack, three people have pleaded guilty to being part of a sham marriage scheme in which a Russian woman “married” Marquez to obtain immigration benefits. Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of IRC attacker Syed Rizwan Farook; Tatiana Farook, Syed Raheel Farook’s wife; and Mariya Chernykh, Tatiana Farook’s sister, pleaded guilty earlier this year to immigration fraud charges and admitted to being part of a conspiracy in which Chernykh paid Marquez to enter into a bogus marriage.

The two criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay H. Robinson, Melanie Sartoris and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section provided substantial assistance.

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Marquez Plea Agreement.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Saleh (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2017) (guilty pleas in Islamic State material support case)

February 13, 2017

Still more Islamic State related convictions, this time including a defendant who stabbed one of the arresting agents multiple times (fortunately the agent had on body armor at the time). From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Earlier today, Munther Omar Saleh, 21, of Queens, New York, pleaded guilty at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, to all charges in an indictment charging him with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and with assaulting and conspiring to assault federal officers. Saleh’s co-defendant, Fareed Mumuni, 22, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded guilty yesterday, on Thursday, February 9, to conspiring and attempting to provide material support to ISIL, assaulting and conspiring to assault federal officers and attempted murder of federal officers. Saleh faces up to 53 years of imprisonment at sentencing, while Mumuni faces up to 85 years of imprisonment at sentencing. Saleh’s and Mumuni’s guilty pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie, who has scheduled both sentencing hearings for May 16.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

“Munther Omar Saleh and Fareed Mumuni conspired to provide material support to ISIL and devised a plan to conduct an attack in New York. During his arrest, Mumuni stabbed an FBI agent numerous times, but thankfully the agent’s body armor protected him from the defendant’s attack and the defendant was safely apprehended by law enforcement,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority. We will continue to seek justice against any individuals who conspire to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations, and those who attempt to harm the brave law enforcement officials who risk their lives to protect us.”

“In the name of ISIL’s false and hateful ideology, these defendants attacked the law enforcement officers who work tirelessly to preserve the safety of our communities,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. “We are especially grateful that an FBI Special Agent survived the violent attack perpetrated by Fareed Mumuni, who repeatedly stabbed the agent in the chest during the execution of a search warrant in a terrorism investigation. We and our partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force remain ever-vigilant in our efforts to protect our citizens and allies and by bringing terrorists to face justice. Today’s convictions will help incapacitate these defendants and sends a strong message to those who would follow in their footsteps.” Mr. Capers thanked the West Midlands Police in the United Kingdom for their assistance in providing evidence related to foreign coconspirators.

“Today’s guilty pleas show just how close the threat of homegrown terrorism exists for New York City. From their respective homes in Queens and Staten Island, Saleh and Mumuni conspired to place a pressure cooker bomb in the New York metro area on behalf of ISIL. Mumuni even attacked an FBI agent when a court-authorized search was being conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force at his home in Staten Island. Threats like this are exactly why protecting the United States from a terrorist attack remains the FBI’s number one priority,” stated Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.

“Saleh and Mumumi engaged in plotting attacks against New York City in the name of ISIL. They received instructions from senior ISIL leaders in Syria. They were committed to violence. When the arrests were made the defendants were armed. One attacked an FBI agent with a large knife. The detection and disruption of these plots is a credit to the partnership between the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill.

As alleged in the indictment and in other court filings, Saleh and Mumuni conspired to support ISIL by helping their co-conspirators attempt to travel to ISIL-controlled territory in order to join ISIL, and by plotting to use a pressure-cooker bomb to conduct a terrorist attack in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL. As part of their support for ISIL, Saleh and Mumuni, together with other co-conspirators, assisted New Jersey resident Nader Saadeh’s planned travel to ISIL-controlled territory. Saleh personally accompanied Saadeh to John F. Kennedy International Airport where Saadeh departed on a flight for Jordan in the first leg of a planned trip to ISIL-controlled territory. Saadeh was subsequently apprehended and pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL. Working with ISIL fighters located overseas, Saleh and Mumuni also coordinated their plot to conduct a terrorist attack in New York City. Saleh sought and received instructions from an ISIL attack facilitator to create a pressure-cooker bomb and discussed with the same ISIL attack facilitator potential targets for a terrorist attack in New York City.

As detailed in court documents, Saleh informed ISIL fighters that his co-conspirators, five individuals located in New York and New Jersey, had confronted law enforcement officers who were continuously surveilling them. Saleh also sought and received religious authorization from an ISIL fighter permitting Mumuni to conduct a suicide “martyrdom” attack by using a pressure-cooker bomb against law enforcement officers who were following the co-conspirators and thus preventing them from traveling to join ISIL.

On June 13, 2015, Saleh and another individual were arrested in Queens after they charged at a federal officer who was performing physical surveillance of Saleh. Saleh and the other individual were armed with knives. Following his arrest, Saleh admitted to agents that he had discussed with Mumuni physically attacking the law enforcement officers who were surveilling Mumuni. On June 17, 2015, during the execution of a search warrant at his residence in Staten Island, Mumuni was arrested after he repeatedly stabbed an FBI agent in the torso with a large kitchen knife. Fortunately, the knife did not penetrate the agent’s protective body armor and he sustained only minor injuries.

During a search of the vehicle used by Mumuni, investigators recovered a second large knife. In his post-arrest interview, Mumuni admitted that Saleh had informed him that an ISIL member had sanctioned Mumuni’s planned suicide attack on law enforcement and that Saleh and Mumuni had discussed using a pressure-cooker bomb to carry out the attack. Mumuni further admitted that he had kept the knife he used to attack the agent wrapped in a t-shirt in his bed, as well as the knife recovered from the vehicle, specifically for use in an anticipated confrontation with law enforcement officers.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda and Ian C. Richardson for the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorneys Justin Sher and Robert Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Jalloh (E.D. Va. Feb. 10, 2017) (11-yr sentence in ISIL material support case)

February 10, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, 27, of Sterling, Virginia, and a former member of the Army National Guard, was sentenced today to 11 years in prison and five years supervised release for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.

Jalloh pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2016. According to court documents, in March 2016, a now-deceased member of ISIL who was located overseas brokered an introduction between Jalloh and an individual in the U.S. who was actually an FBI confidential human source (CHS). The ISIL member was actively plotting an attack in the U.S. and believed the attack would be carried out with the assistance of Jalloh and the CHS. Jalloh met with the CHS on two occasions and told the CHS he was a former member of the Virginia Army National Guard, but that he decided not to re-enlist after listening to online lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jalloh had recently taken a six-month trip to Africa where he had met with ISIL members in Nigeria and first began communicating online with the ISIL member who later brokered his introduction to the CHS. During their meeting, Jalloh also told the CHS he thought about conducting an attack all the time, and that he was close to doing so at one point.

Jalloh claimed to know how to shoot guns and praised the gunman who killed five U.S. military members in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July 2015. Jalloh also stated he had been thinking about conducting an attack similar to the terrorist attack at Ft. Hood, Texas, in November 2009, which killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, during the May 2016 meeting, Jalloh asked the CHS about the timeline for an operation and commented that it was better to plan an attack operation for the month of Ramadan, and stated that such operations are, “100 percent the right thing.” Jalloh also asked if the CHS could assist him in providing a donation to ISIL. Ultimately, Jalloh provided a prepaid cash transfer of $500 to a contact of the CHS that Jalloh believed was a member of ISIL, but who was in fact an undercover FBI employee.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in June 2016, Jalloh travelled to North Carolina and made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain firearms. On July 2, 2016 Jalloh went to a gun dealership in northern Virginia, where he test-fired and purchased an assault rifle. Unbeknownst to Jalloh, the rifle was rendered inoperable before he left the dealership with the weapon. Jalloh was arrested the following day and the FBI seized the rifle.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Gibbs and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Jolie Zimmerman of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Kareem (D. Arizona Feb. 8, 2017) (ISIL conspiracy to provide material support sentencing)

February 9, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 45, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison, and lifetime supervised release following his conviction on numerous offenses. On March 17, 2016, Kareem was found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”), a designated foreign terrorist organization; conspiring to transport firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce with the intent to commit murder and aggravated assault; transporting firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce with the intent to commit murder and aggravated assault; making false statements to the FBI; and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange for the District of Arizona and Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon of the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton.

“Following the first jury trial in the country involving a homeland attack committed in the name of ISIL, today’s sentence holds Abdul Kareem accountable for conspiring to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization and other federal offenses,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The defendant conspired with Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi to provide material support to ISIL and to transport firearms in interstate commerce with the intent to commit murder and aggravated assault. Thanks to the response of brave law enforcement officers at the scene, no innocent lives were lost when Simpson and Soofi attacked the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. The National Security Division will continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who conspire with others to support foreign terrorist organizations and to commit acts of violence in our country.”

“Today’s sentence, in the country’s first trial involving a homeland terrorist attack committed in the name of ISIL, demonstrates the commitment of the United States to hold accountable any person who participates in or aids in any way acts of terrorism against our citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Strange. “I want to thank the FBI for the tremendous effort that went into the underlying investigation, as well as the brave law enforcement officials in Garland whose quick action during the attack prevented a much larger tragedy.”

“The sentencing of Kareem is significant and sends a strong message to those who support terrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge DeLeon. “Unfortunately, some people who do not believe in the American way of life are plotting to do us harm. The protection of U.S. citizens and our communities remains the FBI’s number one priority. This can only be accomplished through the joint and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement, our intelligence community, and our vigilant citizens. I would like to commend our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, to include the Joint Terrorism Task Force, for their role in this case."

The evidence at trial showed that beginning around June 2014, Kareem and two friends, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, began conspiring to support ISIL. Their conspiracy focused on supporting ISIL by attacking targets in the U.S. Over the course of the conspiracy, Kareem, Simpson and Soofi considered attacking military bases, individual military service members, shopping malls, the Super Bowl and the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest.”

On May 3, 2015, the morning of the contest, Simpson and Soofi drove from Arizona to Texas, stopped their car near the contest, got out and began firing assault rifles at security personnel and law enforcement officers. A security guard was injured by one of their bullets, and Simpson and Soofi were shot and killed by police officers in the firefight.

Additionally, the evidence at trial showed that Kareem’s role in the conspiracy included assisting the other two men with firearms training, providing money to purchase some of the weapons and ammunition used in the attack, instruction on how to care for and maintain their weapons, taking Simpson and Soofi shooting in the desert, hosting Simpson and Soofi in his home and providing a meeting location to plan the attack. The evidence also showed that Kareem supported ISIL and knew that Simpson and Soofi supported ISIL. Kareem did not travel to Texas and was not injured during the attack. During an interview with FBI agents soon after the attack, Kareem lied about having prior knowledge of the attack and the contest.

This case was investigated by the FBI, and the prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Koehler and Kristen Brook of the District of Arizona, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Rebecca Magnone and Deputy Chief Matthew Blue of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.