nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Jameson (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2017) (material support); United States v. Mamadjonov (D.Conn. Dec. 22, 2017) (immigration charges)

December 30, 2017

With apologies for being slow to forward these, here are two DOJ announcements from December 22nd:

Modesto Man Arrested for Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Terrorist Organization

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal complaint was unsealed today, charging Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, of Modesto, with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Jameson had several online interactions with a confidential source in which he expressed support for the Oct. 31, 2017, terrorist attack in New York City and offered his services for “the cause.” In subsequent communications with an undercover agent, Jameson referred to his training in the U.S. military and noted he had been trained for combat and war. Jameson later met with another undercover agent whom he believed to be associated with the senior leadership of the foreign terrorist organization, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIL). During his interactions with this undercover agent, Jameson offered to carry out violent acts and to provide financial support for the terrorist organization.

“The Department of Justice works resolutely every day to prevent terrorist attacks,” said Attorney General Sessions. “In my time back at the Department, nothing has impressed me more. Today, our incredible law enforcement officers have once again helped thwart an alleged plot to kill Americans. I want to thank the FBI agents and federal prosecutors and everyone else who helped make this possible. The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is real — and it is serious — but the American people can be assured that the Department of Justice remains vigilant in protecting our homeland.”

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert stated, “I want to express my thanks to the FBI for working in partnership with my office on this case. We are grateful that our hardworking law enforcement partners remain vigilant in protecting our communities, especially during this holiday season.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dawrence W. Rice and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the case with Trial Attorney Brenda Sue Thornton from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section.

If convicted, Jameson faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lawful Permanent Resident from Uzbekistan Charged with Immigration Offenses

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, announced that SIDIKJON MAMADJONOV, 31, a citizen of Uzbekistan residing in New Britain, was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with immigration offenses.

MAMADJONOV appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and was ordered detained.

As alleged in court documents, MAMADJONOV was admitted to the U.S. in February 2009 and became a lawful permanent resident in September 2010. On September 8, 2014, MAMADJONOV submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services an Application for Naturalization, Form N-400.

The complaint alleged that, on November 20, 2017, in an interview with the FBI, MAMADJONOV stated that on a trip to Turkey in May 2013, he was informed that his brother Saidjon had died in May or June 2013 while fighting in Syria with the “Nusra” group, which was affiliated with ISIS. When MAMADJONOV returned from Turkey, he received a FedEx package that contained what he believed to be Saidjon’s iPhone. The iPhone contained several videos and photographs depicting Saidjon in Syria. MAMADJONOV recalled a video in which Saidjon stated, “Join us brother, we are here.” Also contained on the phone were photographs of Saidjon cleaning weapons in military dress while armed with a weapon, as well as a photograph of Saidjon’s dead body and his bloodied face.

The complaint alleges that in FBI interviews on May 14 and May 29, 2014, and on November 28, 2014, MAMADJONOV responded to questions about the trip he took to Turkey in May 2013, and questions about his brother, Saidjon Mamadjonov. During all three interviews, MAMADJONOV stated that Saidjon Mamadjonov was still alive when he knew he was dead.

The complaint further alleged that in an FBI interview on August 17, 2016, MAMADJONOV stated that he did not know the whereabouts of Saidjon, had not overheard any discussions of Uzbeks in the U.S. going over to Syria to fight, and was not aware of any Uzbeks travelling to Syria.

The complaint alleged that in response to Part 11, Question 10 of the Form N-400 MAMADJONOV submitted in September 2014, “Have you ever been a member of, or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with: C. A terrorist organization?” MAMADJONOV responded “No.” Also, in response to Part 11, Question 31 of Form N-400, “Have you ever given any Government official information that was materially false, fraudulent or misleading?” MAMADJONOV responded “No.” MAMADJONOV signed the form below the statement “I certify, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that this application, and the evidence submitted with it, are all true and correct.”

The complaint further alleged that, on October 27, 2016, in an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer regarding his Form N-400, MAMADJONOV again provided false statements and concealed information about his association with a member of a known terrorist organization. At the conclusion of the interview, he swore an oath under penalty of perjury that his responses were true.

The complaint charges MAMADJONOV with the unlawful procurement of naturalization, and making a false oath or declaration under penalty of perjury, offenses that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. The complaint also charges MAMADJONOV with making false statements on a naturalization application, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, New Britain Police Department and Hartford Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas P. Morabito, with the assistance of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Advertisements

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Damlarkaya (S.D. Tex. Dec. 11, 2017) (unsealed charges in IS material support / explosives info case)

December 13, 2017

Last Friday, the FBI arrested an 18-year-old in Houston who had been communicating online with undercover FBI agents and others, expressing a desire to go overseas to join the Islamic State or else commit an attack here. Note that the charges include provision of information for making explosives.

DOJ’s press release is here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/houston-man-taken-custody-charges-terrorism

Contents from it:

Houston Man Taken Into Custody on Charges of Terrorism

Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen from Houston, has been charged with unlawfully distributing explosive making information and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office made the announcement.

Authorities arrested Damlarkaya late Friday, Dec. 8, upon the filing of a sealed criminal complaint. It was unsealed this morning as he made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo, at which time he was temporarily ordered into custody pending a detention hearing set for Dec. 14.

According to the charges, beginning in or about early August 2017, Damlarkaya engaged in online communications with undercover FBI agents and other sources. During those conversations, he allegedly shared his intentions to travel overseas to fight for ISIS or, if unable, to commit an attack in the United States. The charges also indicate Damlarkaya asked if he could provide a farewell video to be published should he follow through with an attack resulting in his death in order to inspire others. Damlarkaya further provided instructions on how to build an AK-47 or AR-15 assault rifle from readily available parts in order to avoid detection from authorities, according to the criminal complaint.

Additionally, Damlarkaya provided a formula to alleged ISIS supporters for the explosive, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), and instructions on how to use TATP in a pressure cooker device that contained shrapnel, according to the allegations. He also discussed the use of a machete or Samurai sword as an alternative to a gun or explosive. The criminal complaint further indicates he claimed to carry a knife in the event he was stopped by law enforcement and that he slept with a machete under his pillow in case his house was ever raided.

In early November 2017, according the court documents, Damlarkaya explained “if I buy a gun or supplies for a bomb, they [presumably law
enforcement] will heat up pressure [j]ust like a few months ago when I was trying an operation but they found out.” The criminal complaint further alleges that Damlarkaya claims to have attempted to get to Syria on two other occasions, but failed.

If convicted of unlawfully distributing explosives information or attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Damlarkaya faces a possible 20-year-maximum term of imprisonment. A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law. 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 after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alamdar Hamdani and Rob Jones of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorneys Gregory Gonzalez and Kevin Nunnally of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ullah (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2017) (criminal complaint charging the NYC pipe bomber)

December 13, 2017

DOJ’s press release is here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/akayed-ullah-charged-terrorism-and-explosives-charges-connection-detonation-bomb-new-york.

Content of the press release:

Akayed Ullah Charged With Terrorism and Explosives Charges in Connection With the Detonation of a Bomb in New York City

Akayed Ullah, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, and a lawful permanent resident from Bangladesh, has been charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with Ullah’s attempted detonation of a bomb in a subway terminal near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on Dec. 11. At least three people were injured as a result of the detonation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern 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 NYPD made the announcement. Ullah will be presented before the Honorable Katharine H. Parker.

"The Department of Justice is relentless in taking on the terrorist threat," said Attorney General Sessions. "In my time back at the Department, nothing has impressed me more. Since 9/11, the Department has convicted more than 500 criminals of terrorism-related offenses, and the FBI has open terrorism investigations in every state. To make law enforcement’s job easier, however, Congress must finally fix our broken immigration system so that we admit to this country those who are likely to succeed, not violent criminals, gang members, terrorists, or their sympathizers. The fact that somebody won a lottery or is someone’s relative tells us nothing about their ability to assimilate. Nevertheless, the Department of Justice will prosecute this case and every other case to the fullest extent of the law, and we will bring those who threaten America to justice."

“Yesterday, in the heart of rush hour, as thousands came into New York City through the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Akayed Ullah allegedly came with a hate-filled heart and an evil purpose: to murder as many innocent people as he could and blow himself up in the process, all in support of the vicious terrorist cause of ISIS,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim. “Although yesterday he allegedly stood in the tunnels under Port Authority plotting to kill, today he stands charged with federal crimes of terrorism. Those alleged terrorists who target New York City do so because they feel threatened by the strength of our spirit, the height of our ambition and the breadth of our freedom. They come seeking to sow hate, fear and terror. But in New York City, they find instead strength, resilience and hope. Like many before him, Akayed Ullah will also find another great American virtue: justice. That justice will be tough, it will be fair and it will be swift.”

“Akayed Ullah let loose his plan to conduct a mass casualty attack, setting off a pipe bomb, strapped to his body, inside a New York City subway terminal, as we allege today,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. Like many others before him, we believe Ullah was inspired by a group that exploits technology in an effort to spread a violent ideology, effectively convincing sympathizers to commit terrorist acts worldwide. The nature of this particular strain of the terrorism threat can often mean evaluating behavior that doesn’t mean anything until you combine it with other pieces of intelligence. We rely heavily upon the community’s assistance to accomplish that task.”

“The act of terror committed in New York City yesterday accomplished nothing,” said Commissioner O’Neill. “It has not changed our way of life. It was a cowardly act, fueled by a false sense of purpose — motivated by propaganda in the shadows of the internet. What is clear is the resolve of New Yorkers to live in a free society, devoid of fear. I want to commend the work of the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors in the Southern District for bringing today’s charges. Finally, our security requires every single member of the public’s help. It requires their vigilance. And it requires their care. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact law enforcement.”

As alleged in the Complaint:

Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS)

ISIS is a foreign terrorist organization based in the Middle East and Africa whose publicly stated purpose is the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate based in the Middle East and Africa that encompasses all Muslims worldwide. ISIS has pursued the objective of an Islamic state through, among other things, killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, mass executions, persecution of individuals and communities on the basis of their religion, nationality, or ethnicity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of Shia communities and minority groups, killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. ISIS has recruited thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to assist with its efforts to expand its so-called caliphate in Iraq, Syria, and other locations in Africa and the Middle East, and has leveraged technology to spread its violent extremist ideology and for incitement to commit terrorist acts.

The Dec. 11, Attack

On Dec. 11, at approximately 7:20 a.m., an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated inside a subway terminal (the Subway Terminal) in or around the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal located at West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in New York, New York (the December 11 Attack). Shortly after the blast, members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department located an individual later identified as Akayed Ullah lying on the ground in the vicinity of the explosion. Surveillance footage captured Ullah walking through the Subway Terminal immediately prior to the explosion, and then falling to the ground after the explosion.

Ullah was subsequently taken into custody by law enforcement. During the course of Ullah’s arrest, law enforcement officers located on his person and in the surrounding area what appeared to be the components of an exploded pipe bomb (the Pipe Bomb). Specifically, law enforcement located, among other items, (i) a nine-volt battery inside Ullah’s pants pocket; (ii) wires connected to the battery and running underneath Ullah’s jacket; (iii) two plastic zip ties underneath Ullah’s jacket; (iv) several fragments of a metal pipe, including pieces of a metal end cap, on the ground; (v) the remnants of what appeared to be a Christmas tree lightbulb attached to wires; and (vi) pieces of what appear to be plastic zip-ties, among other items.

After Ullah was taken into custody, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he made statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights. During that interview, Ullah stated, among other things, the following:

  • Ullah constructed the Pipe Bomb and carried out the Dec. 11 Attack. Ullah was inspired by ISIS to carry out the Dec. 11 Attack, and stated, among other things, “I did it for the Islamic State.”
  • Ullah constructed the Pipe Bomb at his residence in Brooklyn (the Residence);
  • The Pipe Bomb was comprised of a metal pipe, which Ullah filled with explosive material that he created. Ullah used Christmas tree lights, wires, and a nine-volt battery as a trigger to detonate the Pipe Bomb. Ullah filled the Pipe Bomb with metal screws, which he believed would cause maximum damage. Ullah used zip ties to secure the Pipe Bomb to his body.
  • Ullah carried out the Dec. 11 Attack in part because of the United States Government’s policies in, among other places, the Middle East. One of Ullah’s goals in carrying out the Dec. 11 Attack was to terrorize as many people as possible. He chose to carry out the attack on a work day because he believed that there would be more people.
  • Ullah’s radicalization began in at least approximately 2014. Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands. He began researching how to build IEDs on the Internet approximately one year ago.
  • On the morning of Dec. 11, shortly before carrying out the attack, Ullah posted a statement on his Facebook account referring to the President of the U.S., stating, in substance, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” Ullah also posted a statement that he believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that Ullah carried out the attack in the name of ISIS.

Items Recovered from Ullah’s Residence

On Dec. 11, law enforcement agents conducted a search of the Residence pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant. Law enforcement agents recovered, among other items, (i) multiple pieces of metal pipes; (ii) pieces of wire and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights; (iii) multiple screws consistent with the screws recovered at the scene of the December 11 Attack; and (iv) a passport in Ullah’s name with multiple handwritten notations, including: “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”

Three individuals were injured as a result of the Dec. 11 Attack.

* * *

Ullah is charged in a Complaint with one count of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment; one count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment and potential maximum of life, all in connection with Ullah’s alleged detonation of an explosive device in New York City.

Mr. Sessions, Mr. Boente and Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI; the NYPD; the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Police Department. Ullah’s arrest is the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – which consists of law enforcement officers of the FBI, NYPD, HSI and other agencies – and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

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

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn G. Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski and George D. Turner of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Khan (S.D. Tex. Dec. 4, 2017) (guilty plea in IS material support case)

December 4, 2017

From DOJ’s press release:

Asher Abid Khan, 23, of Spring, pleaded guilty today to providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office made the announcement.

“We aggressively investigate and prosecute persons who provide material support to terrorist organization like ISIS,” said Martinez. “Khan provided ISIS a battlefield soldier to further the terrorist organization’s violent agenda. Khan’s guilty plea is indicative of the priority this office has placed on those who would give aid and comfort to terrorists operating in the United States and abroad. ”

The investigation began in 2014 when Khan and his friend, who was living in South Texas, devised a plan to travel to Turkey and then to Syria for the purpose of fighting on behalf of ISIS. Khan had been living with a relative in Australia. Prior to leaving for Turkey from there, Khan told Mohamed Zuhbi, a Turkish-based foreign terrorist fighter facilitator, that he wanted to join ISIS.

Khan provided instructions to his friend on travel and how to reach him once Khan arrived in Turkey. During this part of the planning phase, it was Khan – not his friend – who was in touch with Zuhbi. On Feb. 24, 2014, Khan and his friend met in Istanbul, Turkey. At that time, Khan gave his South Texas friend money, knowing he intended to travel to Syria and join and fight with ISIS.

Khan then departed from the Istanbul Airport in Turkey and returned to the United States after his family tricked him into coming home to Houston because of an alleged hospitalization of his mother.

As soon as Khan returned to the U.S., he contacted Zuhbi with the purpose of introducing him to his friend so he could enter Syria and join ISIS as a fighter with Zuhbi’s help. Khan then provided to his friend a Turkish cell phone number for reaching Zuhbi. The following day, Khan’s friend sent an electronic message to Khan indicating he had “been delivered :),” by Zuhbi, but that he was not with ISIS yet. Over the next few months, the friend attended fighter training camps and stayed in touch with Zuhbi and Khan. During that time, Khan offered his friend money and instructed him to try to get to ISIS.

On Aug. 11, 2014, the friend finally made it to ISIS with Khan and Zuhbi’s assistance. After September 2014, he had ceased all forms of communications. On Dec. 25, 2014, the friend’s mother received an electronic message explaining that her son had died while fighting.

Zuhbi is still at large and is believed to be residing in either Turkey or Syria. There are pending criminal charges in the Southern District of Texas against Zubhi. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at 713-693-5000.

U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes accepted the guilty plea today and has sentencing for March 5, 2018, at 1:30pm. At that time, Khan faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 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 FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko, Alamdar Hamdani and Steve Mellin of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case along with the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.