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.