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Two cases of material support to ISIS

First, an indictment from the District of New Mexico:

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

District of New Mexico


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, August 26, 2022

New Mexico man indicted for attempting to provide material support to ISIS

Herman Wilson also charged with attempting to obstruct, influence and impede at least one official proceeding

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced that Herman Leyvoune Wilson, also known as Bilal Mu’Min Abdullah, made an initial appearance in federal court today on an indictment charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to obstruct, influence and impede at least one official proceeding.

A federal grand jury indicted Wilson, 45, of Albuquerque, on Aug. 23. Wilson will remain in custody pending an arraignment scheduled for Aug. 30.

According to the indictment and other court records, from Jan. 23, 2020, to Nov. 20, 2021, Wilson allegedly attempted to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization. Wilson allegedly attempted to establish an “Islamic State Center” in New Mexico that would teach ISIS ideology, provide training in tactical maneuvers and martial arts, and serve as a safe haven for individuals preparing to travel and fight on behalf of ISIS in the United States and abroad.

Additionally, between Sept. 19, 2020, and October 2020, Wilson allegedly attempted to obstruct, influence and impede at least one official proceeding by commanding and inducing the destruction and concealment of records by shutting down an online platform. From May 2019 to September 2020, Wilson allegedly helped to administer an online platform to promote ISIS ideology, recruit others to ISIS ideology and discuss terrorist attacks in the United States and overseas. Wilson also allegedly used the online platform to promote the Islamic State Center and find potential like-minded individuals to join the center.

In September 2020, Kristopher Matthews and Jaylin Molina were arrested for providing material support to ISIS, and later pleaded guilty in the Western District of Texas. Matthews and Molina admitted that Wilson radicalized them to ISIS’s ideology, and that without Wilson’s influence, they would never have committed the crimes. When Matthews and Molina were arrested, Wilson allegedly instructed online platform members to destroy evidence of their use of the group. Matthews and Molina were sentenced in July 2022 to 20 years and 18 years in prison, respectively.

“Defending our country from terrorism is a core mission of the Department of Justice,” said United States Attorney Uballez. “We will not tolerate threats to our country from terrorist organizations like ISIS. We will vigorously prosecute anyone who attempts to provide material support to terrorists.”

“The FBI takes very seriously its role as America’s primary federal law enforcement agency for investigating and preventing acts of international and domestic terrorism,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bujanda. “This investigation was the result of months of painstaking work by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, other experts, and our federal, state, and local partners. Preventing terrorist attacks against Americans at home and abroad remains the FBI’s top priority, and we will vigorously pursue investigations when an individual crosses the line from espousing particular views into planning or committing acts of violence.”

An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Wilson faces up to 20 years in prison for each count.

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jon K. Stanford, Nicholas Mote and Tavo Hall are prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorney John Cella of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Secondly, from the Eastern District of NY, a guilty plea from a Queens resident:

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of New York


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, August 26, 2022

Queens Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Awais Chudhary Planned to Commit Knife Attack in Queens on Behalf of ISIS

Awais Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Brooklyn to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  Today’s proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.  When sentenced, Chudhary faces up to 20 years in prison.

Breon S. Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew G. Olsen, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the guilty plea.

“Awais Chudhary has admitted to planning to carry out a lone wolf terrorist attack in Queens against innocent civilians in an embrace of ISIS’s murderous cause,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Thanks to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Chudhary’s efforts to commit deadly violence on behalf of ISIS were thwarted, lives were saved, and he now awaits sentencing for his heinous crime.”

“As he admitted today, Mr. Chudhary planned to bring terror to the people of New York City on behalf of ISIS.  The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), with its tireless vigilance, was able to successfully disrupt his plot, keeping our city safe from this potential lone wolf terrorist.  The FBI, along with our partners on the JTTF, remain committed to our highest priority of defending the United States from terrorism,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

“Mr. Chudhary has admitted to providing material support, from American soil, to terrorists based overseas,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell.  “He is a naturalized U.S. citizen who abandoned the country that took him in, and instead pledged allegiance to ISIS and repeatedly and diligently promoted its violent objectives. Clearly, the threat of ISIS-inspired terrorism remains very real, and the members of our FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force will never stop working to identify anyone aiding groups that consider our country their sworn enemy.”

According to court filings, in August 2019, after watching violent terrorist propaganda videos, Chudhary pledged his allegiance to ISIS’s then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and began planning for a knife or bomb attack as a lone wolf ISIS supporter.  Chudhary identified targets, including the pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway and the Flushing Bay Promenade, where he intended to carry out the attacks.  Chudhary sought guidance from individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters, including what type of knife to use and how to prevent detection from law enforcement by not leaving “traces of finger prints [or] DNA.”  Chudhary also sent a screenshot of a document from an ISIS propaganda magazine that included a diagram of the human body depicting where to stab victims with a knife.  Chudhary conducted several reconnaissance trips to these locations and made video recordings of the areas he intended to attack. 

Chudhary ordered items online that he intended to use to commit a terrorist attack, including a tactical knife, a mask, gloves, and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack, which he hoped would serve as inspiration to other ISIS supporters.  Chudhary was arrested as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online retailer’s locker in Queens.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Algor and Ellen Sise are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Kevin Nunnally of the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section. 

The Defendant:

AWAIS CHUDHARY
Age:  22
Queens, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-135 (CBA)

Links:

DOJ NM Indictment press releases – District of New Mexico, Office of Public Affairs

DOJ NY Guilty Plea press releases – Eastern District of NY, Office of Public Affairs

Categories: Department of Justice (DOJ) Updates Enforcement Actions Indictments and Arrests ISIS/ISIL/Da'esh Material Support Pleas and Verdicts Terrorism

eric9to5

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