nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Booker (D. Kansas July 24, 2017) (30-year sentence in bomb plot inspired by ISIS)

July 24, 2017

Details from DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – John T. Booker Jr., 22, of Topeka, Kan., was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb on the Fort Riley military base in Manhattan, Kan. On Feb. 3, 2016, Booker pleaded guilty to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall of the District of Kansas and Special Agent in Charge Darrin E. Jones of the FBI’s sKansas City Division made the announcement.

“With this sentence, John Booker is being held accountable for his plan to kill U.S. military personnel on American soil in the name of ISIS,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats and protecting American lives by bringing to justice those who plot to attack us. I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who made this result possible.”

“Violent extremism is a threat to America and all its people,” Acting U.S. Attorney Beall said. “Our goal is to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from inspiring, financing or carrying out acts of violence.”

“The investigation leading to today’s sentencing illustrates the FBI’s commitment to disrupting acts of terrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Jones. “If Mr. Booker had been successful in detonating a car bomb, the results could have been dozens, if not hundreds, of casualties. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting the citizens of the United States and thwarting acts of terrorism.”

In his guilty plea, Booker admitted he intended to kill American soldiers and to assist ISIS’s (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) fight against the U.S. His plan called for constructing a bomb containing 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate. Booker intended to trigger the bomb himself and die in the process, and filmed a video he intended Americans to see after his death.

“You sit in your homes and think this war is just over in Iraq,” Booker said in the video. “Today we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep.”

Unbeknownst to Booker, the bomb that he constructed was made with inert materials, and the two men working with him were undercover informants for the FBI.

The FBI began investigating Booker in March 2014 after he posted on his Facebook page that he wanted to commit jihad. Booker admitted that he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army in order to commit an insider attack against American soldiers like the one at Fort Hood in Texas, but his deadly plans were thwarted when he was denied entry into the Army. In October 2014, Booker began communicating with an undercover FBI informant. He told the undercover FBI informant that he dreamed of being a fighter in the Middle East, and proposed capturing and killing an American soldier.

In March 2015, Booker was introduced to another FBI informant who he believed would help him plan an attack. Booker said he wanted to detonate a suicide bomb because he couldn’t be captured, all the evidence would be destroyed, and he would be guaranteed to hit his target. On March 10, 2015, Booker made a video filmed at Freedom Park near Marshall Army Airfield at Fort Riley in which he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. That month, he rented a storage unit in Topeka where the bomb would be assembled.

On April 10, 2015, Booker and the informants drove to an area near Fort Riley that Booker believed to be a little-used utility gate where they could enter Fort Riley undetected. He was arrested when he made the final connections on the device that he believed would arm the bomb.

Mr. Boente and Mr. Beall commended the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for their investigation of this case. They also thanked Assistant Trial Attorneys Josh Parecki and Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi of the District of Kansas, who prosecuted this case.

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nationalsecuritylaw one last thing: the National Security Law Podcast

July 22, 2017

Dear friends,

As you know, this listserv is largely-confined to updates on terrorism-related prosecution matters these days. It occurred to me, though, that many of you might be interested in knowing about “The National Security Law Podcast,” which I began with my colleague Steve Vladeck (also a professor at UT) several months ago.

The show runs weekly, and usually last about an hour. We pick a handful of recent developments relating to national security and law, and debate them thoroughly.

Our aim is for the show to be insightful even for experts on the topic de jour, yet accessible to anyone who has a taste for getting into the weeds (including, notably, non-lawyers). Another goal is to model respectful disagreement and debate, and sometimes—gasp—we even persuade one another to change views. I should probably also warn you that we are a more than a bit irreverent (some would say dorky), and that we end each episode with digressions into sports, Game of Thrones, and the like!

So far, we are reaching about 6,000 listeners a week. Give us a try (and a review on iTunes or whatever you might use for podcasts), and please spread the word to anyone else who might be interested.

It’s all free, of course. The podcast homepage is here (www.nationalsecuritylawpodcast.com), and you can subscribe on iTunes here (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-national-security-law-podcast/id1201314368?mt=2).

Best,

Bobby

Robert Chesney (website)

Charles I. Francis Professor in Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs | The University of Texas School of Law

Director | The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law (website)

512.232.1298 | Twitter: @bobbychesney | Blog: www.lawfareblog.com | Scholarship: SSRN page


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Damache (E.D. Pennsylvania July 21, 2017) (extradition of ISIS supporter)

July 22, 2017

After a long period of wrangling over the extradition of this defendant (successfully from Spain now, but unsuccessfully from Ireland previously), Ali “Theblackflag” Damache of Algeria is in US custody:

WASHINGTON – Ali Charaf Damache, aka “Theblackflag,” 52, of Algeria, made his initial appearance today following extradition from Spain for his involvement in conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.

Damache was indicted in 2011 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

As part of the conspiracy, Damache, his co-defendants Mohammad Hassan Khalid, Colleen R. LaRose, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, and others conspired to provide material support and resources, including logistical support, recruitment services, financial support, identification documents and personnel, to a conspiracy to kill overseas. Damache, Khalid and others devised and coordinated a violent jihad organization consisting of men and women from Europe and the U.S. divided into a planning team, a research team, an action team, a recruitment team and a finance team; some of whom would travel to South Asia for explosives training and return to Europe to wage violent jihad.

Furthermore, Damache, Khalid, LaRose and others recruited men online to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe. In addition, Damache, Khalid, LaRose and others allegedly recruited women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.

This case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the FBI’s New York Field Office, in conjunction with the FBI’s Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC Field Offices. Authorities in Ireland and Spain also provided assistance in this matter.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Trial Attorneys Matthew F. Blue and C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Alhaggagi (N.D. Cal. July 21, 2017) (another ISIS material support case)

July 22, 2017

Press release details below:

WASHINGTON – Amer Sinan Alhaggagi, 22, of Oakland, California, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in San Francisco with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch of the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.

According to the indictment, Alhaggagi, 22, of Oakland, California, is alleged to have knowingly attempted to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), between July and November of 2016, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B. ISIS is a designated foreign terrorist organization. The indictment alleges that the services Alhaggagi attempted to provide included opening social media accounts for the use, benefit and promotion of ISIS, and that the personnel he provided was himself.

The indictment also alleges three counts of identity theft offenses – two counts of identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. With respect to those charges, an affidavit previously filed by an agent of the FBI in connection with a criminal complaint in the same matter alleged that Alhaggagi had used a stolen credit card to make $4,932 in fraudulent online purchases from a clothing company.

The FBI arrested Alhaggagi, a U.S. citizen, on Nov. 29, 2016, based on a criminal complaint charging identity theft. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore ordered Alhaggagi detained following his arrest based on findings that he presented a flight risk and a danger to the community. The complaint and the previous proceedings against Alhaggagi were unsealed yesterday when the indictment was returned.

Alhaggagi’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum total sentence of 47 years on all four counts in the indictment, and a fine of $250,000 for each count. 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.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the Oakland Police Department and the Berkeley Police Department.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Kang (D. Hawaii July 22, 2017) (US soldier indicted for attempting to provide support to ISIS)

July 22, 2017

Indictment is attached, press release below. A sergeant in the U.S. Army….

WASHINGTON – An indictment was returned July 21 charging Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, an Army sergeant first class stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Kang was previously arrested on July 8, and ordered detained pending further proceedings.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Elliot Enoki of the District of Hawaii and Special Agent in Charge Paul Delacorte of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office made the announcement.

The grand jury indictment, which was filed on July 19, charged Kang with four counts of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, based on events that occurred in Hawaii between June 21 and July 8. The indictment and an earlier criminal complaint allege that Kang met with undercover agents of the FBI whom he believed to be affiliated with ISIS and provided military information, some of which was classified at the SECRET level. Kang is also charged with providing property (a drone,s military clothing and equipment) and training (instruction on combat techniques and weapons training which was videotaped for future use by ISIS) to undercover agents whom he believed to be affiliated with ISIS.

Kang will appear in court on July 24, for an arraignment and plea on the charges, at which time a trial date will be scheduled.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted of the charges, Kang faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each count. 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.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Sorenson and Marc Wallenstein.

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Kang Indictment.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Mohammad (S.D. Ohio July 10, 2017) (guilty plea in AQAP material support case, plus solicitation of hitman)

July 11, 2017

Details from the DOJ press release appear below:

WASHINGTON – Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support or resources to terrorists and one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja for the Northern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Division, and U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott of the Northern District of Ohio made the announcement. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan supervised the prosecution of the solicitation to commit a crime of violence charge.

“The defendant conspired to provide and did provide material support to Anwar Al-Awlaki in response to his calls to support violent jihad,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to terrorists.”

“This defendant conspired to attack our service members abroad as well as a judge in Toledo,” Acting U.S. Attorney Sierleja said. “He threatened the hallmarks of our democracy. He is a dangerous criminal who deserves a long prison sentence.”

“Conspiring to have a judge killed is not the way to avoid being prosecuted – now Mohammad will be held accountable for additional serious federal charges,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure the safety of those that uphold the rule of law. “

“Protecting the federal judiciary is our highest priority,” said U.S. Marshal Elliott. “This is an example where we were able to work with our law enforcement partners to protect a judge and bring charges against a dangerous individual.”

Mohammad is an Indian citizen who was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004. He married a U.S. citizen in 2008. He and three other defendants – his brother, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim, and Sultane Room Salim – were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2015. The case against the remaining three defendants is pending. They have pleaded not guilty.

Mohammad admitted to conspiring with his co-defendants to travel to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars, equipment, and other assistance to Anwar Al-Awlaki, in an effort to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. Al-Awlaki was later designated as a global terrorist in 2010 and identified as a “key leader” of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, according to court documents.

On July 22, 2009, Mohammad travelled with two associates to Yemen to meet Awlaki and deliver the $22,000 that they had raised. Although they were unable to meet Awlaki in person, Mohammad and his associates did ensure that Awlaki received the money through a courier.

In addition to pleading guilty to conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, Mohammad also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee (UCE), posing as a “hitman,” to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. In or about April 2016 – while the terrorism case was pending and assigned to Judge Zouhary – Mohammad told another inmate in the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio that he wanted Zouhary kidnapped and murdered and that he was willing to pay $15,000 to have this carried out. The inmate provided Mohammad with the contact information for the UCE and stated that the UCE would need a $1,000 down payment before the murder could occur. The inmate also provided Mohammad with an agreed upon code to use when discussing the planned murder over the jail telephone.

On or about April 26, 2016, Mohammad called the UCE from the Lucas County Corrections Center. Using the agreed-upon code, Mohammad told the UCE he wanted to have Judge Zouhary killed. Mohammad agreed to provide the $1,000 down payment. When asked when he wanted the murder committed, Mohammad stated, “The sooner would be good, you know.” Over the ensuing days, Mohammad arranged to have a family member provide the $1,000 in cash to the UCE. On May 5, 2016, that family member met with the UCE and provided the UCE with $1,000 in cash. Mohammad later informed the inmate that the rest of the money for the murder was coming, according to court documents.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mohammad is expected to be sentenced to 27 ½ years in federal prison. Mohammad will be deported from the U.S. upon completion of his sentence, under the terms of his plea agreement.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Freeman, Matthew Shepherd and Christos N. Georgalis of the Northern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorneys Gregory Gonzalez and David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, following an investigation by the FBI.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Daniels (S.D. Ohio July 6, 2017) (guilty plea in Islamic State material support case involving US citizen)

July 7, 2017

From the DOJ press release:

WASHINGTON – Aaron Travis Daniels, 20, aka Harun Muhammad, aka Abu Yusef, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2339B.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, 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) made the announcement. The plea was entered before Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.

“Daniels admitted that he attempted to travel abroad to provide material support to ISIS,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Identifying, thwarting and holding accountable individuals who attempt to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations is a top priority of the Department of Justice.”

“This case demonstrates how terrorist activities abroad can reach into our local communities,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “Our office and agencies in the JTTF will continue to cooperate as we work to protect our national security.”

JTTF agents arrested Daniels on Nov. 7, 2106, as he attempted to leave Columbus with the intent to join ISIS in Libya. A federal grand jury indicted him on Nov. 10, 2016. Daniels has been in custody since his arrest.

Daniels faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 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.

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

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica W. Knight and Jessica Kim, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gibson of the Southern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.