Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that AHMED MOHAMMED EL GAMMAL, a/k/a “Jammie Gammal,” was indicted today for providing, and conspiring to provide, material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”), a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as for aiding and abetting the receipt of military-type training from ISIL and conspiring to receive such training. EL GAMMAL was arrested on Monday in Avondale, Arizona, and presented in federal court in the District of Arizona, pursuant to a criminal complaint that was unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court. The case is assigned to Judge Edgardo Ramos of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Ahmed Mohammed el Gammal actively touted online his support for ISIL and its terrorist ways, ultimately meeting and assisting a New York college student to travel to Syria to obtain military training from ISIL. Individuals like Gammal who allegedly serve as facilitators for ISIL fuel the hatred and radicalization that keep terrorist organizations like ISIL alive.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “As alleged, Gammal helped a college student in New York receive terrorist training in Syria through a contact in Turkey, in order to support ISIL. These relationships were allegedly made and solidified through the Internet while Gammal was in Arizona. This is another example of how social media is utilized for nefarious and criminal purposes around the world. The identification of the conspiracy, and arrest today, demonstrate how federal and local law enforcement continue to work together to mitigate such threats globally and protect the United States.”
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said: “This investigation demonstrates how easily people can support a terrorist organization without ever meeting, from the anonymity of their own computer and hidden behind obscure social media accounts and the veil of the Internet. I commend the detectives and agents on the Manhattan based Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District for their unwavering commitment to keeping our city safe.”
As alleged in the criminal Complaint unsealed yesterday and the Indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court1:
In August 2014, a 24-year-old New York City resident (“CC-1”) who was growing increasingly radicalized learned via social media that EL GAMMAL had posted social media comments supportive of ISIL. Minutes later, CC-1 contacted EL GAMMAL. Over the next several months, CC-1 and EL GAMMAL continued corresponding over the Internet, although CC-1 deleted many of these exchanges.
In the midst of these communications, in October 2014, EL GAMMAL traveled to Manhattan, where CC-1 was enrolled in college, and contacted and met with CC-1. While in New York City, EL GAMMAL also contacted another co-conspirator (“CC-2”), who lived in Turkey, about CC-1’s plans to travel to the Middle East. EL GAMMAL later provided CC-1 with social media contact information for CC-2. Thereafter, EL GAMMAL and CC-2 had multiple social media exchanges about CC-1 traveling to the Middle East. In addition, CC-1 began communicating with CC-2, introducing himself as a friend of “Gammal’s.”
In late January 2015, CC-1 abruptly left New York City for Istanbul, Turkey. After CC-1 arrived in Turkey, EL GAMMAL continued to communicate with him over the Internet, providing advice on traveling toward Syria and on meeting with CC-2. After CC-1 arrived in Syria, he received military-type training from ISIL between early February and at least early May 2015.
On May 7, 2015, CC-1 reported to EL GAMMAL that “everything [was] going according to plan.”
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EL GAMMAL, 42, of Avondale, Arizona, is charged with one count of providing 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; one count of receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count of conspiring to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of five 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. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, and the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI for their assistance.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brendan F. Quigley, Negar Tekeei, and Andrea L. Surratt are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Ranganath Manthripragada of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
1As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Complaint and the Indictment and the descriptions of the Complaint and the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.