War on Terrorism

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Toledo woman charged after she purchased black powder and screws that she believed were going to be used to make a bomb as part of a terrorist attack


A Toledo woman was arrested and charged in federal court after she purchased black powder and screws that she believed were going to be used to make a bomb as part of a terrorist attack.

Elizabeth Lecron, 23, was charged with one count of transportation of explosives and explosive material for the purposes of harming others and property.

“This defendant bought black powder and hundreds of screws that she expected would be used to make a bomb,” said Justin E. Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Through her words and actions, she demonstrated that she was committed to seeing death and destruction in order to advance hate. This case demonstrates terrorism comes in many guises and we will remain vigilant to protect all Americans.”

FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said: “Removing Elizabeth Lecron from the ranks of civilized society by virtue of arrest and prosecution thwarts her explicitly stated desire to engage in acts of death and destruction. This case is a testament to the value of an ever vigilant public, which had the courage to alert law enforcement as to the evil goals and intentions of this suspect."

According to an affidavit filed in the case:

Lecron came to the attention of law enforcement earlier this year after one of her associates expressed a desire to conduct a violent attack. Further investigation revealed Lecron frequently posted voluminous photographs and comments on social media glorifying mass murderers, including the Columbine shooters and Dylann Roof.

After her Tumblr account was shut down because of offensive content, Lecron started a new profile -- “CharlestonChurchMiracle,” -- where she continued to post photos and comments about mass casualty attacks.

Lecron and an associate flew to Denver in order to visit Columbine High School. Around this time, she also began corresponding with Roof and attempted to send him Nazis literature.

Earlier in August, undercover FBI agents and confidential sources communicated with Lecron. In August, she stated she and an associate 1 had devised a plan to commit an “upscale mass murder” at a Toledo bar. She stated she knew the bar only had two ways in or out, which could be a tactical advantage when police arrived.

Later that month, Lecron stated she wanted to meet other anarchists in order to form a team. She stated she wanted to damage a livestock farm to set livestock free. She later confirmed she was willing to sabotage anything that harms the environment.

A week later, on August 28, she reiterated she wanted to attack a farm that raises pigs or cows. The next day, Lecron stated she could not locate such a farm and was going to focus on something else.

In September, Lecron met with undercover FBI agents and stated she and an associate started to make a pipe bomb. She stated she “definitely want(ed) to make a statement up here” and thought the place where she worked could be a good target because she believed they were polluting the river behind the plant.

On December 4, Lecron has discussions with an undercover agent regarding a pipeline bombing. Lecron agreed to buy black powder needed to make a bomb.

On December 8, Lecron met with a source at a retail sporting good stores, where she entered the store by herself and purchased two pounds of Hodgson Triple Seven Muzzleloading Propellant. She then went to a larger retailer in Perrysburg, where she purchased 665 screws of various sizes, some as large as three inches.

Lecron said to the source: “So I guess I’ll talk to you when the deed is done?” She later said: “I’m very excited...stick it to him man…be safe.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of members of the FBI, Homeland Security and Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Toledo Police Department, is leading the ongoing investigation. They were assisted by the FBI’s office in Denver. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant's role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

A charge is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ohio man arrested and charged in federal court after planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo area



Damon M. Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio, was charged today in federal court with one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, for allegedly planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo, Ohio area.  Joseph was arrested Friday evening after he took possession of two semi-automatic rifles.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S Attorney Justin E. Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.

“Damon Joseph was allegedly inspired by ISIS’ call to violence and hate.  He planned to attack the victims, based on their religion, at a Toledo-area synagogue in the name of ISIS, and hoped that it would lead to the deaths of many and spread fear,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “His alleged actions would be an assault on the liberties and respect for humanity we hold so dear.  We will continue to make every effort to prevent such attacks from occurring.  I commend the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who identified the threat posed by this defendant and took action to protect the public from his plans.”

 “This man spent months planning a violent terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS here in the United States, and eventually targeted a Jewish synagogue in the Toledo area,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman.  “The charges describe a calculated man fueled by an ideology of hatred and intent on killing innocent people. The FBI, our police and Justice Department employees are to be credited for working to stop the defendant before he could act.”

“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from radicalized, virtual jihadist to attack planner,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Fortunato.  “He ultimately decided to target two Toledo-area synagogues for a mass-casualty attack in the name of ISIS. Joseph will now be accountable in a court of law for his pursuit of a violent act of terrorism upon our fellow citizens attending their desired house of worship.”

According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo:

Earlier in 2018, Joseph drew the attention of law enforcement by posting photographs of weapons and various messages in support of ISIS on his social media accounts, as well as a photograph originally distributed by the media wing of ISIS.  This activity led to multiple interactions between Joseph and undercover FBI agents.

During his communication with undercover agents, Joseph stated his support for ISIS and produced propaganda in support of ISIS recruitment.  In September, Joseph made videos that he sent to the undercover agent, hoping they would be used to recruit people to ISIS.  He also complained that the mosque he attended was critical of ISIS.

Joseph stated his support for violent attacks and operations.  For example, on Oct. 21, Joseph expressed support for “martyrdom operations” and stated: “what must be done, must be done” and “there will always be casualties of war.”

On Oct. 30, Joseph and the undercover communicated regarding the mass shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. Joseph stated: “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually.”  He added: “I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah. They wouldn’t even [an attack] expect in my area...”

Over the next few weeks, Joseph continued stating he wanted to participate in an attack on behalf of ISIS.  On Dec. 2 he forwarded a document that laid out his plans for an attack, using the name “Abdullah Ali Yusuf” for himself.  In the document, he described plans to attack where the greatest number of people are gathered, inflict the most casualties during the attack and make sure no one escaped.

Joseph then stated that he did not see this necessarily as “a martyrdom operation” as his plan accounted for an escape and potential combat with law enforcement.

On Dec. 4, Joseph stated he was deciding between two synagogues in the area to attack.  He stated the choice would depend on “Which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home.”

The next day, Joseph met with an undercover FBI agent and discussed conducting a mass shooting at a synagogue.  Joseph identified two synagogues he viewed as targets in the greater Toledo area, and discussed the types of weapons he believed would be able to inflict mass casualties.

Joseph made written notes about the firearms he wanted and provided them to the undercover agent, stating he wanted AR 15s, AK 47, Glocks and ammunition.

On Dec. 6, Joseph met with an undercover in the Toledo area and stated it would be ideal to attack two synagogues, but that it was probably more realistic to only attack one.  Joseph also stated specifically that he wanted to kill a rabbi.

Also on Dec. 6, Joseph wrote the name and address of the synagogue where the attack was to occur.  Joseph stated he had conducted research to determine when the Jewish sabbath was so that more people would be present.  Joseph pulled up photographs of the inside of the synagogue and said he wanted the attack to begin in the sanctuary.  Joseph told the undercover agent that he would hide two semi-automatic rifles at his house once the undercover purchased them.

Later that day, the undercover agent told Joseph that he purchased rifles for the attack.  The two met on Dec. 7 at a predetermined location and Joseph took a black duffel bag containing two semi-automatic rifles, which had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement officers so that they posed no danger to the public.  Joseph was then arrested.

A charge is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of members of the FBI, Homeland Security and Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Toledo Police Department, is leading the ongoing investigation. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Baeppler of the Northern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorneys Josh Champagne and Kyle Phillips of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Department of Homeland Security Offers Free Virtual Training Tool: Read About It on SchoolSafetyInfo.org


Go to www.schoolsafetyinfo.org, Justice Technology Information Center's school safety website, to read "Gaining the "EDGE" on Virtual Training for Schools and First Responders." Learn about this new virtual training tool from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that offers schools and the first responder community the opportunity to work together on interactive, collaborative training. You can also check out some of the other entries in our Success Stories section, and then browse the calendar of events and more.