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.

###

17-818

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE USE THE CONTACTS IN THE MESSAGE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT 202-514-2007.

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.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Mohamud (S.D. Ohio June 29, 2017) (guilty plea in case involving material support to al Nusrah + plans to attack inside US)

June 29, 2017

Plea documents attached, and press release details below:

WASHINGTON – Court records unsealed today reveal that Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 25, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty to all counts alleged against him regarding a terrorist plot.

A federal grand jury charged Mohamud in April 2015 with one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization – namely, the al-Nusrah Front – and one count of making false statements to the FBI involving international terrorism in an indictment returned in Columbus. Mohamud pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers on Aug. 14, 2015, and the plea was sealed because of an ongoing investigation.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI, Prosecutor Ron O’Brief for Franklin County, and the FBI’s Columbus Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), announced the plea unsealed by U.S. District Judge James L. Graham.

“Mohamud admitted to traveling overseas, providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and receiving training from terrorists. He also admitted to returning to the United States and planning to conduct an attack on American soil. He will now be held accountable for his crimes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to identify, disrupt, and bring to justice those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations and seek to conduct attacks on our homeland.”

“National security is the first priority of this office, and we will use every tool at our disposal to stop those who support foreign terrorist organizations and those who seek to do harm in the United States,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said.

“Each day the Joint Terrorism Task Force and our law enforcement partners are working to keep the community safe from those who wish to disrupt our way of life,” said Special Agent in Charge Byers. "We must continue to remain vigilant against these potential threats.”

“This case illustrates the effectiveness of the local JTTF and the cooperative effort in the Columbus area that exists to combat terrorism,” said Franklin County Prosecutor O’Brien.

According to court documents, Mohamud is a Somali-born naturalized citizen of the U.S. who, in 2014, obtained a U.S. passport and one-way ticket to Greece. During his travel in April 2014, Mohamud did not board his connecting flight to Athens, Greece; rather, during his layover in Istanbul, Turkey, he completed pre-arranged plans to cross the border into Syria. In Syria, Mohamud received training from al-Nusrah Front, a terrorist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda.

According to a statement of facts supporting Mohamud’s guilty plea, while in Syria, Mohamud trained with al-Nusrah Front on fitness, and on the use of weapons and tactics. Mohamud also engaged in a firefight and expressed his desire to die fighting in Syria.

After his brother was killed while fighting for al-Nusrah Front, Mohamud returned to the U.S. According to the statement of facts, after returning to the U.S., Mohamud planned to obtain weapons in order to kill military officers or other government employees or people in uniform. Evidence seized by the FBI indicates that Mohamud researched places in the U.S. to carry out such plans.

Mohamud was originally arrested and indicted in state court and a $1 million bond was set that maintained him in custody. Those state charges were dismissed when the federal prosecution commenced. Mohamud was then transferred into federal custody following the April 2015 indictment and remains in custody.

Providing material support to terrorists and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization are each crimes punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Making false statements involving international terrorism carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. The sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation of the FBI’s JTTF with numerous local partners. Trial Attorneys Bridget Behling and Lolita Lukose of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas Squires, Jessica H. Kim and Salvador Dominguez and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gibson of the Southern District of Ohio, are prosecuting the case.

2017 06 29 Mohamud 41-1 SOF.pdf

2017 06 29 Mohamud 41-Plea Min.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Sullivan (W.D.N.C. June 27, 2017) (life sentence for plotting mass shooting in coordination with the Islamic State)

June 27, 2017

Details from the press release below:

WASHINGTON – Justin Nojan Sullivan, 21, of Morganton, North Carolina, was sentenced today to life in prison for attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charge on Nov. 29, 2016.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte, North Carolina Division, made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the sentencing.

“Sullivan is a convicted terrorist who plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of ISIS,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders. I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

“Sullivan was actively planning the mass killing of innocent people with an attack designed to inflict maximum casualties and maximum pain in the name of ISIS, a sworn enemy of our nation. Sullivan’s allegiance to ISIS did not stop there. He also planned to film and send a video of his deadly attack to now-deceased Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIS member based in Syria, and further expressed his wish to create a new branch of the so-called Islamic State in the United States. The life sentence imposed on Sullivan reflects the seriousness of his crimes, protects the public from the danger he poses, and serves as a deterrent to others who wish to harm civilians within our borders. Our fight against terrorism continues whether against those who commit crimes on behalf of ISIS or any other foreign terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

“Identifying a terrorist before an attack happens is one of the most difficult tasks we face in the FBI. We compare it to finding a needle in a stack of needles. But that is exactly what we did to stop Justin Sullivan from carrying out his murderous plot in the name of ISIL. It took an incredible level of cooperation and collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Today’s life in prison sentence is the result of the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working around the clock to protect this country from those who seek to do us harm,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.

Federal Terrorism Charges

According to information contained in court documents, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan sought out and downloaded violent ISIS attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, and collected them on his laptop computer. Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIS in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.

As Sullivan previously admitted in plea related documents filed with the court and at his plea hearing, beginning no later than June 7, 2015, Sullivan conspired with Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries, to plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia. Sullivan discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.

Court documents indicate that Sullivan told the UCE via social media that it was better to remain in the U.S. to support ISIS than to travel. Sullivan suggested that the UCE obtain weapons and told the UCE that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina. On or about June 20, 2015, Sullivan attempted to purchase hollow point ammunition to be used with the weapon(s) he intended to purchase.

According to court records, Sullivan had researched on the Internet how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks. Court records show that Sullivan told the UCE he planned to carry out his attack in the following few days at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed using the assault rifle and silencer.

Filed documents indicate that over the course of Sullivan’s communications with Junaid Hussain, Hussain had asked Sullivan to make a video of his planned terrorist attack, to which Sullivan had agreed.

On or about June 19, 2015, the silencer, which was built according to Sullivan’s instructions, was delivered to him at his home in North Carolina, where Sullivan’s mother opened the package. Sullivan took the silencer from his mother and hid it in a crawl space under his house. When Sullivan’s parents questioned him about the silencer, Sullivan, believing that his parents would interfere with his plans to carry out an attack, offered to compensate the UCE to kill them.

Sullivan previously admitted that he took substantial steps towards carrying out terrorist attacks in North Carolina and Virginia by: (1) recruiting the UCE; (2) obtaining a silencer from the UCE; (3) procuring the money that would have enabled him to purchase the AR-15; (4) trying to obtain a specific type of ammunition that he believed would be the most “deadly”; (5) identifying separate gun shows where he and the UCE could purchase AR-15s; and (6) obtained a coupon for the gun shows he planned for himself and the UCE to attend on June 20 or 21, 2015.

The Court’s Findings

The Court announced its reasons for accepting the agreed life sentence. The Court noted that Sullivan’s plan to murder innocent civilians at a social gathering was similar to the Orlando nightclub attack in 2016. According to the Court, Sullivan’s plan, however, was more sinister because he planned to use stealth – including a mask to hide his identity and a silencer to kill as many as possible, with the hope to escape and kill again. The Court found that Sullivan’s offense was cold and calculating.

In making today’s announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Charlotte, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Hickory Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Gregory R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

###

17-709

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE USE THE CONTACTS IN THE MESSAGE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT 202-514-2007.