War on Terrorism

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Maple Heights man faces additional charges of making threats against the President and his family, as well as providing material support to al Qaeda


A superseding indictment was filed charging a Maple Heights man attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, as well as making threats against the President, threats against the family of the President and false statements to law enforcement.

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, aka Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, aka Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, 49, has been in custody since July, when he was arrested after allegedly planning a terrorist attack in Cleveland. He was previously indicted on one count of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.

Pitts on June 15, 2018, did knowingly and willfully make a threat to kidnap and inflict bodily harm upon Donald J. Trump, specifically that he would “get” the President by cutting off the President’s head and hands, according to the indictment.

Pitts on June 15, 2018 also knowingly and willfully made threats to kidnap and inflict bodily harm upon members of the President’s family, specifically that “…a better way to get, to get him is to kill his kids. Kill his daughter, son-in-law. Kill ‘em all. He (the President) come out ‘cause you start killing his kids, chop their heads off…you send his kids back,” according to the indictment.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, between 2015 and 2017, Pitts expressed anti-American sentiments and expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans.  The defendant expressed a desire to meet with an al Qaeda “brother” and in June he was introduced to an FBI employee acting in an undercover capacity (UCE), who Pitts believed was such a “brother.”

Pitts and the UCE met in Walton Hills, Ohio, where they discussed launching an attack for al Qaeda during the July 4th holiday.

Pitts said: “I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July.”  He later stated: “What would hit them at their core?  Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the 4th of July parade.”

Pitts and the UCE searched Google for a map of downtown Cleveland.  After learning the fireworks would be launched from Voinovich Park, Pitts said: “Oh there you go. Oh yeah.”  He was also pleased the park was near the U.S. Coast Guard station, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Celebrezze Federal Building.

The meeting concluded with Pitts indicating to the UCE that he would travel to downtown Cleveland soon to take photographs and videotape footage as part of surveillance efforts of Voinovich Park and the U.S. Coast Guard station.  He also expressed a desire to take a tour of the U.S. Coast Guard station to gain as much information as he could about the layout of the facility.

The UCE texted Pitts later on June 22 and where he indicated al Qaeda “brothers” would provide Pitts with a bus pass and cellular phone.

On June 25, Pitts met with an FBI confidential human source (CHS) in Maple Heights, Ohio, who provided Pitts with a bus pass and a phone Pitts could use to communicate with the UCE.  The bus pass was provided to Pitts, as he requested, so he could travel to downtown Cleveland to conduct surveillance for the July 4th attack.

On June 26, Pitts contacted the UCE via text message and relayed that he had completed the reconnaissance of the designated spots in downtown Cleveland and that he desired to “destroy the government.”

Pitts also indicated he intended to travel to Philadelphia, since Philadelphia is his hometown and he knows it best.  Pitts indicated it was his “job” to “go look at the base of the ground” and that it was up to other “brothers” to complete other parts of the job.

On June 27, Pitts met with the CHS and turned over the phone that contained the reconnaissance photos and videos, so they could be provided to the al Qaeda brothers.

Later on June 27, Pitts and the UCE met in Maple Heights then drove to downtown Cleveland, where they discussed the impending July 4th bombing.

“And I’m gonna be downtown when the – when the thing go off.  I’m gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off,” Pitts said.

A search of the phone that Pitts provided to the CHS revealed that he made two videos in which he pledged allegiance.  He stated, in part: “We serve Allah . . . We fight our enemies.  We destroy them and destroy those who try to oppose…”

The phone also had four videos taken by Pitts that show him walking down East 9th Street in Cleveland, pointing out potential targets such as the federal building, the Coast Guard station and St. John’s Cathedral, which he said could be taken “off the map.”

On July 1, Pitts met with the UCE in Garfield Heights, Ohio, for Pitts to explain his plan for Philadelphia.  Pitts said he planned to travel there to conduct reconnaissance for a future attack in Philadelphia.  Pitts stated a truck bomb packed with explosives, such as the one used in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, would be the best way to cause maximum damage.

Pitts was reminded by the UCE that people would die and body parts would by flying around.  Pitts responded “I don’t care” and that he had “no regrets,” would be able to “go to sleep” and “I don’t give a (expletive).”

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 violations.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

This investigation is being conducted by the FBI-Cleveland Division’s Joint Terrorism Task.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Baeppler and Matthew Shepherd of the Northern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

An indictment is only a charge and 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.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Manhattan Man Arrested For Attempting And Conspiring To Provide Material Support To Terrorist Organization


Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion Was Arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport While Allegedly Attempting to Travel Overseas to Join Lashkar e-Tayyiba

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that JESUS WILFREDO ENCARNACION, a/k/a “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was arrested last night at John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK Airport”) in Queens, New York.  ENCARNACION was charged by a criminal Complaint earlier today with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to Lashkar e-Tayyiba (“LeT”), a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  ENCARNACION is expected to be presented later today before Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman in Manhattan federal court.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Jesus Encarnacion, a Manhattan man, plotted to travel to Pakistan to join and train with the terrorist organization Lashkar e-Tayyiba, which is infamous around the world for perpetrating the lethal 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and other atrocities.  The excellent work of the FBI and NYPD stopped Encarnacion’s alleged plan to support this deadly terrorist organization before he took flight, and now he will face federal terrorism charges.”

Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said:  “Encarnacion allegedly attempted to travel to Pakistan to join a foreign terrorist organization and conspired with another individual to provide that organization with material support.  The National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to join and support designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As alleged, not only did Mr. Encarnacion express a desire to execute and behead people, he scheduled travel and almost boarded a plane so he could go learn how to become a terrorist.  These organizations are using the internet and social media to appeal to the most barbaric impulses in people, and train them to kill.  The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to do all it can to stop these alleged criminals before innocent people are killed.”

NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “As alleged, Jesus Encarnacion had expressed his desire to commit a terrorist attack while living in New York City and never abandoned those plans.  Allegedly, one of his stated motives for traveling overseas was to get the training and experience he believed he needed to someday return to the United States and carry out attacks.  I want to commend the FBI Agents, NYPD Detectives and representatives of 54 other agencies that make up the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the investigation that led to this arrest.”

As alleged in the criminal Complaint,[1] filed today in Manhattan federal court:

In November 2018, ENCARNACION expressed his desire to join a terrorist group in an online group chat, where he met another individual (“CC-1”).  CC-1 introduced ENCARNACION to an individual who, unbeknownst to CC-1 or ENCARNACION, was in fact an undercover FBI employee (“UC-1”).  ENCARNACION repeatedly expressed, in the course of recorded communications through a social media service with CC-1 and through an encrypted messaging service with UC-1, his allegiance to and support for LeT, which, since approximately 2001, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Secretary of State.

Over the past several months, ENCARNACION has discussed his desire and plans to join LeT overseas so that he could receive training and participate in violent acts of terrorism.  For example, ENCARNACION told UC-1 that he was “ready to kill and die in the name of Allah” and sought UC-1’s assistance to help ENCARNACION travel to abroad to serve as an “executioner” for LeT, stating, “I want to execute.  I want to behead.  Shoot.”  ENCARNACION further stated that he aspired to commit terrorist attacks (“a bombing and shooting”) in the United States, but lacked “guidance” and “guns” to do so.

During the months that followed, ENCARNACION and UC-1 agreed on a plan that ENCARNACION believed would allow him to join LeT in Pakistan.  ENCARNACION told UC-1 that he had made arrangements to travel to a particular city in Europe (the “European City”), as the first step of traveling to Pakistan to join LeT.  ENCARNACION purchased an airline ticket for a flight scheduled to depart on February 7, 2019, from JFK Airport, to the European City.  On February 7, ENCARNACION traveled to JFK Airport, where he was arrested by the FBI after he attempted to board that flight.

*                      *                      *

ENCARNACION, 29, of Manhattan, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of agents from the FBI, detectives from the NYPD, and officers from numerous other agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which assisted significantly in this case.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys David W. Denton Jr. and Kimberly J. Ravener are in charge of the prosecution.

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


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below are only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

North Texas Man Charged by Criminal Complaint with Conspiring to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization


A north Texas man was charged today with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.

Michael Kyle Sewell, 18, was charged Friday morning by criminal complaint in Fort Worth, Texas with conspiring to provide material support and resources to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based foreign terrorist organization.

As set forth in the complaint, Sewell recruited an individual, identified in the complaint as coconspirator 1, to join Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  Sewell met the coconspirator online and encouraged him to join LeT.

Sewell provided the coconspirator with contact information for an individual he believed could facilitate the coconspirator’s travel to join the organization. Unbeknownst to Sewel and the coconspirator, the facilitator was an undercover FBI agent.

Sewell coached the coconspirator about what to say to convince the facilitator that he was sincere in his desire to fight for LeT.  Sewell also contacted the facilitator to vouch for the coconspirator’s authenticity.  Sewell told both the coconspirator and the facilitator that he would kill the coconspirator if he turned out to be a spy.

The coconspirator made contact with the facilitator and made arrangements with the facilitator to travel to Pakistan to join LeT.

“Sewell allegedly used social media to recruit and encourage an individual to travel overseas to join a foreign terrorist organization and conspired with that person to provide material support to that organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “The National Security Division is committed to hold accountable those who engage in this behavior.”

“We stay on constant alert for radicals plotting attacks targeting citizens of the United States, here or abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “Countering terrorist threats is our highest priority, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring justice to those who attempt to provide material support to foreign terror organizations. I would like to thank the FBI and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners for all that they do to keep our communities safe.”

"The men and women of FBI Dallas along with our local, state, and federal partners will continue to work diligently against homegrown violent extremists who provide support to any foreign terrorist organization," said Eric K. Jackson, Special Agent-In-Charge of the FBI Dallas Division. "As threats are uncovered to the community we serve, the FBI and its partners must continue to ensure we are vigilant and determined to prevent any harm to this great nation."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and its Joint Terrorism Task Force members, including the Arlington Police Department, the Fort Worth Police Department, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, investigated the case.