nationalsecuritylaw the end of the National Security Law listserv

June 14, 2018

Dear friends and colleagues,

You may have noticed that I’ve stopped circulating clips announcing developments in recent terrorism-related cases.

I’m sorry about that, and regret to report that I’m shutting down the ol’ listserv after much more than a decade in operation.

No action needed on your part. You just won’t get further emails from me. Or, I should say, you won’t often get them; I’ll keep the system in place in case it somehow becomes useful again in the future.

Meanwhile, I should underscore that I’m not turning my attention away from national security law. Rather the opposite.

On the scholarship side, I’m drawing close at last to finishing the manuscript of the book I’ve been writing for many years now. It’s a history of how the law has developed over time in relation to the power of the state to kill or detain in the name of national security, starting in (not kidding) the late Roman Empire and running to September 11, 2001. It’s been a genuine labor of love, and I’m deeply excited to hear what others think of it. Indeed, I’ll probably send a note out via this listserve sometime next spring, with more information about the publication date.

As for the daily deluge of national security legal news? I still obsess over all of it, and have three ways I try to share it all:

1. The weekly podcast that I co-host with my colleague and friend here at UT, Steve Vladeck. Every week, we record an hour-long review of the latest national security law news (periodically including snapshots of terrorism-related case developments). We sometimes agree, but often debate; we think it’s important to show how people can debate these issues with respect and admiration from one another, and try to model that. Oh, I should admit: we’re quick to digress, and insist on maintaining a happy tone that sometimes is a bit incongruous with the subject. Some say we’re like Car Talk, but with national security topics and no callers. The show is creatively entitled “The National Security Law Podcast,” and you can access through its homepage here (https://www.nationalsecuritylawpodcast.com), iTunes here (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-national-security-law-podcast/id1201314368?mt=2), and all sorts of other places. We’ve got about 7500 weekly listeners at this point, and would love for you to give it a shot (and spread the word to others).

2. Lawfare (www.lawfareblog.com). What Ben Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, and I started long ago has grown…bigger. Lawfare is not going anywhere, and you can find me writing there on all the classic national security law issues – and, increasingly, on cybersecurity issues – every week.

3. Last, you might also find my Twitter feed somewhat useful (or perhaps somewhat annoying). I’m @bobbychesney, and I do use it 90% for national security news/commentary.

Well, that’s all. Thanks for being on the other side of these emails all these years. It’s been fun, and I hope you’ve found it useful! (Sincere apologies to those who’ve only joined recently and didn’t get any use from it!)

Signing off,

Bobby

Robert Chesney (website)

James Baker Chair 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

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nationalsecuritylaw with apologies for the delay, here are a number of recent DOJ terrorism-related case developments

March 24, 2018

A number of backlogged case reports, all text from DOJ press releases:

1. United States v. Alahmedalabdaloklah (D. Arizona) (Mar. 17, 2018) (jury conviction of Syrian citizen involved in IED attacks on US soldiers in Iraq)

Today, Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah, a Syrian national who had been living in Iraq, was convicted by a jury, following a six-week trial, of conspiring and supporting the 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, an insurgent group that planted road-side bombs to attack and kill American soldiers in Iraq. A jury convicted Alahmedalabdaloklah on Conspiracy to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction, Conspiring to Maliciously Damage or Destroy United States Property by Means of an Explosive, Aiding and Abetting Other Persons to Possess a Destructive Device in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence, and Conspiracy to Possess a Destructive Device in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. Sentencing is set for June 5, 2018 before District Judge Roslyn O. Silver.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Elizabeth A. Strange, First Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, and Michael Deleon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Phoenix Field Office, made the announcement.

“Alahmedalabdaloklah conspired with a violent Iraqi insurgent group to kill American soldiers in Iraq,” said First Assistant Strange. “Today’s verdict underscores our commitment to use every available resource to bring justice to American soldiers who were killed or injured by such terrorist acts. I commend the FBI and the prosecution team for their tremendous efforts in securing this conviction.”

"The FBI’s highest priority is preventing acts; both in the United States and abroad," said Phoenix FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon. "We want to thank the Department of Justice and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, agents, analysts, and both local and foreign partners for working together to bring Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah to justice. This is a prime example of the FBI’s commitment to pursuing justice even in the most complex and difficult cases. The FBI also wants to voice our sympathy and condolences to the victims, their families and friends. The FBI will continue our mission of preventing terrorist acts and pursuing those who plan to do us harm. "

Between 2006 and 2011, United States soldiers were deployed to Iraq to support the fledgling Iraqi government and to provide security to the Iraqi people. Multiple insurgent groups, including the 1920 Revolution Brigades (“1920s”), opposed the Iraqi government and committed violent acts in an effort to destabilize Iraq and expel American forces from the country. American soldiers faced daily attacks from snipers, small team ambushes, and deadly improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) planted along major military supply routes.

Alahmedalabdaloklah supported the 1920s by designing, making, and supplying parts for remote-controlled IED initiator switches for roadside bombs. In August 2006, during a search and seizure weapons clearing mission, American soldiers located an apartment in Baghdad that had been converted into an IED switch-making factory. Soldiers seized numerous items used to detonate IEDs, including receivers, transmitters, cell phones, key fobs, modified hands-free headsets, and ready-to-use IED switches. Over a thousand finger and palm prints belonging to Alahmedalabdaloklah were discovered on the items found there, including instructions for making IEDs.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster from the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Pimsner, Melissa Karlen, and Bill Solomon, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.

2. United States v. Ftouhi (E.D. Mich. March 21, 2018) (additional charge involving transnational terrorism)

Amor M. Ftouhi, 50, of Montreal, Canada, who was previously indicted in July 2017, for charges relating to an attack on a Bishop Airport officer in Flint, Michigan, was charged today with an additional offense of committing an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeffery E. Peterson of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

United States Attorney Schneider stated, “This additional terrorism charge against Mr. Ftouhi shows we will — to the fullest extent of the law — vigorously prosecute terrorists who seek to harm the people of Michigan.”

"Today’s superseding indictment is a clear example of the work done by the Detroit Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to hold accountable those who seek to harm U.S. citizens on behalf of a foreign terrorist group. The indictment speaks to the collaborative efforts of law enforcement and intelligence professionals at the state, local and federal level, as well as the FBI’s close relationship with our international partners in Canada," said Jeffery E. Peterson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI.

According to court records, Mr. Ftouhi entered the United States from Canada for the purpose of killing government personnel in the United States. Before entering the United States on June 16, 2017, while in Canada, Mr. Ftouhi conducted online research of American gun laws and for gun shows in Michigan. Mr. Ftouhi subsequently traveled to Michigan where he was unsuccessful in purchasing a gun and purchased a knife instead. On June 20, 2017, Mr. Ftouhi walked up to the victim, who is a lieutenant with the Bishop Airport Authority and was in full uniform, and stabbed the police officer in the neck with a knife. Mr. Ftouhi referenced killings in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and yelled “Allahu Akbar.” After his arrest, Mr. Ftouhi told law enforcement that he was a “soldier of Allah” and subscribed to the ideology of al-Qaeda and Usama bin Laden.

Ftouhi will be arraigned on the new indictment in federal court in Flint. The defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. Any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

3. United States v. Hendricks (N.D. Ohio March 20, 2018) (jury conviction in ISIS material support case)

Erick Jamal Hendricks, 37, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was convicted today by a jury in Akron, Ohio, of attempting and conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The guilty verdict was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Office following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge John Adams.

“Hendricks used social media to recruit others to plan and carry out attacks on our homeland in the name of ISIS, with the goal of creating a sleeper cell on our soil,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, Hendricks’ plan was thwarted, and with today’s verdict he is being held accountable for his terrorist activities.”

“This defendant recruited and directed people here in the United States to launch attacks against our citizens, and attempted to recruit others to engage in similar attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman. “Protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks remains our priority and our community will be safer with this defendant behind bars.”

“Erick Jamal Hendricks represents the significant online ISIS threat that we face daily – a US citizen that becomes radicalized online and attempts to recruit and train individuals to commit jihad, all while on American soil,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “The FBI urges the public to report information regarding individuals pledging their allegiance to ISIS or other identified terrorist groups. The FBI is pleased that Hendricks was stopped before he was successful and now will spend a significant amount of time behind bars.”

According to court documents and trial testimony, Hendricks tried to recruit people to train together and conduct terrorist attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS.

Amir Al-Ghazi was arrested in the Northern District of Ohio in June 2015 after attempting to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an undercover law enforcement officer. Al-Ghazi had pledged allegiance to ISIS in social media and made statements expressing interest in conducting attacks in the U.S.

Hendricks had contacted Al-Ghazi over social media to recruit him in the spring of 2015. Hendricks allegedly told Al-Ghazi that he “needed people” and wanted to meet in person; that there were several “brothers” located in Texas and Mexico; that he was attempting to “get brothers to meet face to face;” and that he wanted “to get brothers to train together,” according to court documents and trial testimony

Al-Ghazi said Hendricks tested his religious knowledge and commitment, inquiring about his willingness to commit “jihad,” to die as a “martyr” and his desire to enter “jannah” (paradise). Al-Ghazi understood these statements to mean that Hendricks was recruiting people to train together for the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack in the U.S. and to see if Al-Ghazi was suitable for recruitment, according to the allegations. Al-Ghazi believed that Hendricks and the “brothers in Texas and Mexico” may have been responsible for a thwarted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, on May 3, 2015, and therefore he decided to stay away from social media for a period following the attack to minimize detection by law enforcement.

Hendricks also communicated over social media with several other people, including an undercover FBI employee (UCE-1). Hendricks on April 16, 2015 instructed UCE-1 to download the document “GPS for the Ghuraba in the U.S.”, which included a section entitled “Final Advice” which advocated that “brothers and sisters” should not allow themselves to go to jail. This section also allegedly encouraged Muslims to die as a “Shaheed” (martyr), to “Boobie trap your homes,” to “lay in wait for them” and to “never leave your home without your AK-47 or M16.” Hendricks also directed UCE-1 to communicate online with other people and stated “It’s hard to sift through brothers;” “Allah chooses only the few;” and “Everyday I do this day in and day out,” according to court documents and trial testimony.

Hendricks told another person that his goal was to create a sleeper cell to be trained and housed at a secure compound that would conduct attacks in the U.S. He mentioned that potential targets included military members whose information had been released by ISIS and the woman who organized the “Draw Prophet Mohammad contest,” and he claimed to have 10 members signed up for his group, according court documents and trial testimony.

On April 23, 2015, Hendricks used social media to contact Elton Simpson, who, along with Nadir Hamid Soofi, was inspired by ISIS and launched the attack on the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland. Simpson and Soofi opened fire, wounding a security guard, before Garland police returned fire and killed both Simpson and Soofi. Hendricks also connected UCE-1 with Simpson via social media, communicated with UCE-1 about the contest in Garland, and directed UCE-1 to go to the contest. Hendricks said: “If you see that pig (meaning the organizer of the contest) make your ‘voice’ heard against her.” He also asked UCE-1 a series of questions related to security at the event, including: “How big is the gathering?” “How many ppl?” “How many police/agents?” “Do you see feds there?’ “Do you see snipers?” and “How many media?” Shortly thereafter, Simpson and Soofi committed the attack on the cartoon drawing contest.

Al-Ghazi previously pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and being a felon in possession of firearms. He is awaiting sentencing.

Hendricks’ sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s offices in Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Baltimore; and Charlotte, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Maryland, District of South Carolina and the Western District of North Carolina.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew W. Shepherd and Mark S. Bennett and Trial Attorney Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

4. United States v. Solano (S.D. Fla. Mar. 15, 2018) (guilty plea in ISIS material support case)

Vicente Adolfo Solano, 53, a citizen of Honduras residing in Miami, pleaded guilty yesterday to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Solano pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1). Sentencing is set for May 30, 2018, at 9:15 a.m. before United States District Judge Paul C. Huck in Miami. Solano faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

According to the stipulated factual basis filed with the Court, in early 2017, Solano told an individual, who later became a Confidential Human Source (“CHS”) for the government, that he was upset with the United States and wanted to conduct an attack in Miami. Later, Solano told this CHS that he wanted to join ISIS.

Solano planned to place and detonate an explosive device in a crowded area of a popular Miami mall. Solano discussed his plot with the CHS and two undercover FBI employees. According to the complaint, Solano provided three videos to the CHS, in which Solano makes pro-ISIS statements and expresses anti-U.S. sentiments. Just prior to his arrest, Solano took possession of what he believed was an explosive device, took steps to arm it, and walked toward a mall entrance in order to carry out his attack. Unbeknownst to Solano, the device was inert and did not pose a risk to the public. Solano was taken into custody prior to entering the Mall.

Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Demers commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen E. Gilbert and Department of Justice Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney Jolie Zimmerman.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

5. United States v. Lepsky (D.N.J. Mar. 13, 2018) (guilty pleas in ISIS-related case)

A Point Pleasant, New Jersey, man today admitted that he planned to construct and use a pressure cooker bomb in New York on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers announced.

Gregory Lepsky, 20, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, specifically ISIS.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Feb. 21, 2017, Lepsky was arrested by the Point Pleasant Police Department in connection with an incident that occurred that day in his family’s home. Following the arrest, law enforcement officers searched the residence and found a new pressure cooker stored behind a roll of bubble wrap in Lepsky’s bedroom closet.

During searches of computers and other digital evidence linked to Lepsky, law enforcement officers found evidence of Lepsky’s plan to build and detonate a bomb as part of his support for ISIS. During several social media communications, Lepsky told others that he intended to fight on behalf of ISIS and that he would, if necessary, become a martyr by driving a “bunch of explosives” to where the “enemies” could be found and blowing himself up.

Law enforcement officers also located a series of instructions that had been published online by another terrorist group that gave specific, step-by-step instructions on how to build a pressure cooker bomb, which coincided with the delivery of the pressure cooker to Lepsky a short time before his arrest. In addition, law enforcement officers recovered a message forwarded by Lepsky from another ISIS supporter stating that if a westerner could not travel to Syria to fight for ISIS, he could conduct a terrorist attack in his home country using improvised explosive devices.

During today’s plea hearing, Lepsky admitted that beginning in January 2017, he began to formulate a plan to detonate the pressure cooker bomb in New York City on behalf of ISIS. Lepsky admitted that he used the internet to access ISIS directives, obtain bomb-making instructions, and purchase the pressure cooker and other items to be used in the attack.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, if accepted by the Court, Lepsky will be given a sentence between 16 and 19 years in prison and a lifetime term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito and Assistant Attorney General Demers credited the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; the N.J. State Attorney General’s Office under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph Coronato; the Point Pleasant Police Department under the direction of Chief Richard P. Larsen; and the N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness under the direction of Director Jared Maples, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Donnelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Defense counsel: Lisa Mack Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

6. United States v. al Farekh (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 13, 2018) (45-year sentence for defendant directly involved with al Qaeda and attacks on US forces in Afghanistan)

Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 32, of Houston, was sentenced today to 45 years following his Sept. 29, 2017 trial conviction of multiple offenses covering seven years of terrorist conduct, including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and providing material support to al-Qaeda.

Assistant Attorney General for the National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue 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 NYPD announced the sentence issued by U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan.

“With the sentence handed down today, al Qaeda terrorist Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh is being held accountable for his crimes. Farekh – an American citizen – traveled overseas, joined al Qaeda, and conspired to kill Americans, including through an attack using explosive devices on a U.S. military installation in Afghanistan in 2009,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “Across the globe, the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue and bring to justice those who seek to harm Americans, including our brave servicemen and women who risk their lives in defense of our nation. I applaud the efforts of the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this successful result.”

“Farekh, a citizen of this country, turned his back on America by joining al-Qaeda and trying to kill American soldiers in a bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This case demonstrates that we will do everything in our power to ensure that those who seek to harm our country and our armed forces will be brought to justice.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which comprises a large number of federal, state, and local agencies from the region.

“Today’s sentencing shows that justice prevails even when terrorist acts are committed in distant foreign locales yet impact American citizens and interests,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force remains dedicated to investigating and bringing terrorists to justice wherever they are. I would like to thank all of our partner agencies for their continued cooperation and dedication.”

As proven at trial, in March 2007, Farekh and two co-conspirators, all of whom were students at the University of Manitoba, departed Canada for Pakistan with the intention of fighting against American forces overseas. Before traveling overseas, Farekh and his co-conspirators watched video recordings encouraging violent jihad, listened to jihadist lectures by now-deceased al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaqi, and came to embrace a violent, extremist view of Islam.

Farekh and his co-conspirators traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, an area in the northern part of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan and is home to al-Qaeda’s base of operations, where they joined and received training from al-Qaeda. Taking advantage of his familiarity with the West, Farekh became a member of, and ultimately ascended to, a leadership role within al-Qaeda’s external operations group, which specialized in planning and executing attacks against the U.S. and its Western allies.

In January 2009, Farekh helped to build a vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device (VBIED) that was used in an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman (FOB Chapman), a U.S. military installation that served as the base for the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Khost, Afghanistan. On January 19, 2009, two explosives-laden vehicles approached the fence line of FOB Chapman. At the gate, the first vehicle, a pickup-sized truck, exploded after its operator detonated the VBIED. The second vehicle, a truck that was carrying approximately 7,500 pounds of explosives, became stuck in the blast crater caused by the first explosion. The driver abandoned his vehicle without detonating the VBIED, and was shot and killed by local security personnel. The initial detonation of the first vehicle injured one U.S. serviceman and numerous Afghan nationals. Forensic technicians recovered 18 latent fingerprints that were determined to be a match to Farekh from adhesive packing tape used to bind together the explosive materials of the second, undetonated VBIED.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard M. Tucker, Douglas M. Pravda and Saritha Komatireddy of the Eastern District of New York, along with Trial Attorney Alicia Cook of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, are in charge of the prosecution.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Canczarski (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 17, 2018) (unsealed indictment for German al Qaeda member soon to finish a prison sentence in France)

January 17, 2018

From DOJ’s press release:

Alleged Al Qaeda Associate Charged With Conspiring to Kill Americans and Other Terrorism Offenses

A Superseding Indictment charging Christian Ganczarski, aka Abu Mohamed, aka Abu Mohamed al Amani, aka Ibrahim, aka Ibrahim the German (Ganczarski), 51, with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, providing and conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and conspiring to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization, was unsealed today in the Southern District of New York. The United States is seeking Ganczarski’s extradition from France.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.

“According to the superseding indictment, between 1999 and 2001, Ganczarski regularly interacted with members of al Qaeda leadership who were responsible for terrorist operations, and provided them with the knowledge and technology to carry out attacks against the U.S. military and its allies,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “This case demonstrates the National Security Division’s resolve to find and bring to justice, terrorists who target U.S. interests in any part of the world. I want to thank all of the prosecutors, agents and analysts who made this result possible.”

“Christian Ganczarski, a German national, allegedly provided critical support to the most prolific terrorists of our time,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “Today we publicly announce charges against Ganczarski alleging that he participated in the planning of plots to kill Americans with high-level al Qaeda terrorists Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, Usama bin Laden and others. The unsealing of the indictment exemplifies this Office’s commitment to the relentless pursuit and prosecution of those who seek to harm Americans.”

“As alleged, Ganczarski willingly supported the goals of al Qaeda, immersing himself in social circles that included the likes of Usama bin Laden and one of the future hijackers in the September 11 attacks, among others,” said Assistant Director Sweeney. “He allegedly participated in efforts to kill Americans by providing technological support and guidance, and arranged meetings between senior officials in the organization and other like-minded individuals bent on future attacks against U.S. interests. While he’s spent the past fifteen years behind bars in France, we haven’t forgotten his allegiance to those who have threatened our interests both at home and abroad. We will continue to work with our international partners to mitigate the threat of global terrorism, bringing to justice everyone who participates in or materially supports this crime.”

“As alleged, Christian Ganczarski worked for al-Qaeda, lived in its camps and guest houses,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill. “He rubbed shoulders with Osama Bin Laden and the men who planned and executed plots from the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 225 people, to the 9-11 attacks that cost 3000 lives, most of them here in New York City. Ganczarski allegedly provided al-Qaeda with expertise in logistics, computers, radio communications and the maintenance of weapons systems that would be used against Americans soldiers after the 9/11 attacks. This case is another example of the work of the FBI agents and NYPD detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. There is no time too long, or place to far, or suspect out of reach when it comes to bringing terrorists, or those who aid them to justice.”

As alleged in the Superseding Indictment unsealed in federal court:

Al Qaeda is an international terrorist organization dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence. The organization was founded by Usama bin Laden and Muhammad Atef, aka Abu Hafs el Masri (Abu Hafs el Masri), and was headquartered in Afghanistan since approximately 1996. Bin Laden served as the leader or “emir” of al Qaeda until his death on or about May 2, 2011.

Al Qaeda has a command control structure that included a majlis al shura (or consultation council) that discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations. Bin Laden and Abu Hafs el Masri sat on the majlis al shura of al Qaeda, as did others, including Saif al Adel. Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, aka Mukhtar, devised, planned, and facilitated terrorist operations for al Qaeda, and he also assisted in the preparation of promotional media used by al Qaeda to advertise its terrorist agenda and attract recruits.

Ganczarski, a German citizen born in Poland, traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan on at least five separate occasions between 1999 and 2001. During these trips, Ganczarski became associated with al Qaeda and developed personal relationships with bin Laden, Abu Hafs el Masri, al Adel and Mohammad. Ganczarski lived at times with his family at al Qaeda’s fortified compound near Kandahar, Afghanistan. At other times, Ganczarski lived in guest houses and other facilities operated by al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Ganczarski participated in al Qaeda’s efforts to kill Americans in a number of ways, such as providing al Adel and other al Qaeda members with technological guidance and hardware, including computers, radios and other communications equipment.

In approximately January 2000, Ganczarski attended a speech delivered by bin Laden at al Qaeda’s headquarters in Kandahar. The January 2000 speech was attended by at least 100 men, including, among others, many significant al Qaeda leaders and terrorists, such as at least one of the plotters in the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and one of the future hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States (the September 11 Attacks). During the speech, Ganczarski sat in the front row with al Adel’s son in his lap.

In approximately March 2000, Ganczarski attended a meeting in Karachi, Pakistan, between Mohammad and a member of Jamaah Islamiyah (CC-1), a Southeast Asia terrorist organization, at which U.S. and Israeli targets for terrorist attacks were discussed. Following the meeting, Ganczarski helped transport CC-1 and a written communication from Mohammad to al Qaeda’s fortified compound in Kandahar, where Ganczarski spoke to bin Laden and took CC-1 to meetings with al Adel and Abu Hafs el Masri at which potential attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests were further discussed.

Ganczarski was in Germany at the time of the September 11 Attacks, and he indicated after the attacks that he had been aware that a significant event was about to occur. In approximately early October 2001, Ganczarski returned to Afghanistan and met with other members of al Qaeda, including al Adel. In approximately November 2001, Ganczarski and others attempted to repair anti-aircraft missiles controlled by al Qaeda that were not functioning, so that the missiles could be fired at U.S. military aircraft flying in the area at the time.

Ganczarski was arrested in France in 2003, and subsequently convicted of offenses under French law relating to a 2002 al Qaeda attack on a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. Ganczarski has been incarcerated in France since being convicted.

* * *

The Superseding Indictment charges Ganczarski, with four counts: one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and provision of material support and resources to terrorists, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison on each count; and one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda) which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The maximum potential penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge. The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Boente and Mr. Berman praised the extraordinary investigative work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD – for the critical role they played and continue to play in the investigation of Ganczarski and his co-conspirators. In addition, Mr. Berman thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III and Amanda L. Houle of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Lee (E.D. Va. Jan. 16, 2018) (arrest of former CIA officer who spied for China, apparently resulting in execution of many in China)

January 16, 2018

This one’s is a counterintelligence rather than counterterrorism development, but so significant I felt I should pass it along:

Critical context from NY Times here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/us/politics/cia-china-mole-arrest-jerry-chun-shing-lee.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

DOJ’s press release is here:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer was arrested last night on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka “Zhen Cheng Li”, 53, was arrested after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York. Lee, who is a naturalized United States citizen, currently resides in Hong Kong, China. According to court documents, Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance, and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA.

According to court documents, in August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia. While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia. During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to the national defense. Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.

Lee made his initial appearance this afternoon in the Eastern District of New York. He is charged with unlawful retention of national defense information and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Hammerstrom and Deputy Chief Elizabeth Cannon of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ullah (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2018) (indictment in NYC port authority bomb / IS material support case)

January 11, 2018

From DOJ’s press release:

Today, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment (the Indictment) against Akayed Ullah, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, in connection with Ullah’s detonation and attempted denotation of a bomb in a subway station near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on Dec. 11, 2017. Three people were injured as a result of the detonation. The Indictment charges Ullah with one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization; one count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and a public transportation system; one count of destruction and attempted destruction of property by means of fire or explosives; one count of conducting and attempting to conduct a terrorist attack against a mass transportation system; and one count of using a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York made the announcement. The case has been assigned to the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan.

“As alleged in the indictment Akayed Ullah constructed a pipe bomb and detonated it in a mass transit hub in the heart of New York City to terrorize as many people as possible and to bring ISIS-inspired violence to American soil,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the law enforcement community, the defendant was safely apprehended at the scene of the attack that injured three people, and will now be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The National Security Division remains steadfast in its mission to pursue justice against those who seek to harm our country and our citizens in the name of terrorism.”

“Less than one month ago, during the holiday rush hour, Akayed Ullah allegedly detonated a bomb in a major transit hub of New York City,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “In selecting this time and place, Ullah’s alleged purpose in the Port Authority bombing was painfully clear: to inflict as much damage as possible, and to strike fear into the hearts of New Yorkers in the name of ISIS. Ullah’s alleged plot failed, and he is now charged with federal terrorism offenses and facing life behind bars.”

Ullah was initially arrested on a Complaint and presented before the Honorable Katharine H. Parker on Dec. 13, 2017. Ullah was ordered detained and has been in federal custody since his arrest. He will be arraigned before Judge Sullivan on Jan. 11, at 3:00 p.m.

As alleged in the Indictment and the Complaint:

Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham

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, 2017 Attack

On Dec. 11, 2017, at approximately 7:20 a.m., Akayed Ullah detonated 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 (PAPD) located 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 December 11 Attack. Ullah was inspired by ISIS to carry out the December 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 composed 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 December 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 December 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 prior to the attack.
  • On the morning of Dec. 11, 2017, shortly before carrying out the attack, Ullah posted a statement on his Facebook account referring to the President of the United States, 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, 2017, 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 December 11 Attack.

* * *

If convicted of the charges in the Indictment, potential maximum sentences could include: (i) 20 years in prison for providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, ISIS; (ii) life in prison for using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction; (iii) life in prison for bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and a public transportation system; (iv) a maximum of 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for destruction and attempted destruction of property by means of fire or explosives; (v) life in prison for conducting and attempting to conduct a terrorist attack against a mass transportation system; and (vi) a consecutive sentence of 30 years to life in prison for using a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence. The potential sentences are all related to Ullah’s detonation and attempted detonation of an explosive device in New York City.

The maximum statutory sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only. 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 charges in the Indictment are merely allegations, 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 Trial Attorney Jerome J. Teresinski of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


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.


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.