War on Terrorism

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cesar Altieri Sayoc Charged in 30-Count Indictment With Mailing Improvised Explosive Devices in Connection With Domestic Terrorist Attack


Sayoc Allegedly Mailed 16 IEDs to 13 Victims Across the United States and Now Faces Charges Including Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Interstate Mailing of Explosives, and Use of Destructive Devices During Crimes of Violence

Cesar Altieri Sayoc, aka Cesar Randazzo, aka Cesar Altieri, and aka Cesar Altieri Randazzo, 56, was charged today in a 30-count Indictment for offenses relating to his alleged execution of a domestic terrorist attack in October 2018, which involved the mailing of 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 victims throughout the country.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office, and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

“According to court filings, Cesar Sayoc mailed 16 IEDs to more than a dozen victims throughout the country, including current and former elected leaders.  Less than five days after the first IED was discovered, he was tracked down and arrested, thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other law enforcement partners,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.

“Cesar Sayoc allegedly targeted former high-ranking officials such as President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others, as well as CNN, by sending explosive packages to them through the U.S. Postal Service,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “Sayoc’s alleged conduct put numerous lives at risk.  It was also an assault on a nation that values the rule of law, a free press, and tolerance of differences without rancor or resort to violence.  Thanks to the diligent and determined work of our law enforcement partners here and across the country, it took just five days to identify and apprehend Sayoc and end his reign of terror.  He now faces justice from a nation of laws.”

 “As alleged, Cesar Sayoc deliberately targeted 13 individuals with 16 improvised explosive devices, attempting to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation from California to the eastern seaboard,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.  “Thanks to the seamless integration of FBI JTTFs across the country, working side-by-side with many other law enforcement agencies and first responders, his campaign of terror was brought to a rapid conclusion just five days after the discovery of the first device.  The FBI remains steadfast in our mission to protect the American public, and we will move with speed to bring justice to anyone seeking to harm our communities.”

“I commend everyone involved in investigating and prosecuting this case, particularly the agents and detectives on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, which includes 56 agencies and 300 individuals – 113 of them NYPD cops,” said Commissioner O’Neill.  “Standing shoulder to shoulder with the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Police, and others, we said from the outset that we would identify and bring to justice the person allegedly responsible for these acts.  We could make that promise because of our proven history of effective partnership.  The public’s vigilance also greatly assisted this investigation and helped lead to today’s 30-count indictment.  What is clear is that New Yorkers are always resilient in the face of threats – we refuse to back down, and we will never be deterred.”

According to the Indictment, Complaint, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings[1]:

Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered 16 padded manila envelopes containing IEDs allegedly mailed by Sayoc from Florida to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Atlanta and California.  Sayoc’s alleged victims, listed alphabetically, were former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Cory Booker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Representative Maxine Walters.

Each of the 16 envelopes allegedly mailed by Sayoc had similar features, including the return addressee “Debbie Wasserman Shultz” at an address in “Florids,” six self-adhesive postage stamps bearing the American flag, and address labels printed on white paper with blank ink in similar typeface and font size.  Each of the 16 envelopes also contained an IED.  The 16 IEDs also had similar features, including approximately six inches of PVC pipe packed with explosive material, a small clock, and wiring.  Some of the IEDs also contained shards of glass.

Preliminary analysis by the FBI has revealed forensic evidence linking 11 of the 16 mailings to Sayoc.  Specifically, latent fingerprints on two of the envelopes have been identified to Sayoc, and there are possible DNA associations between a DNA sample collected from Sayoc prior to his arrest in this case and DNA found on components from 10 of the IEDs (including one of the IEDs that was mailed in an envelope from which a latent fingerprint identified to Sayoc was recovered).

The FBI arrested Sayoc in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 26 – less than five days after the Oct. 22 recovery of the first IED, which Sayoc allegedly mailed to Soros in New York.  The FBI seized a laptop from Sayoc’s van in connection with the arrest that contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that Sayoc allegedly mailed.  The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of Sayoc’s first name: “Users/Ceasar/Documents.”  A document from that path, titled “Debbie W.docx” and bearing a creation date of July 26, contained repeated copies of an address for “Debbie W. Schultz” in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that Sayoc allegedly used on the packages.  Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name “Debbie,” and creation dates of Sept. 22, contain exact matches of the return address allegedly used by Sayoc on the 16 envelopes.

Sayoc possessed a cellphone at the time of his arrest, and the FBI’s ongoing forensic analysis of the device has revealed additional evidence.  For example, Sayoc allegedly used the phone to conduct the following Internet searches, among others, on the dates indicated:

    July 15: “hilary Clinton hime address”
    July 26: “address Debbie wauserman Shultz”
    Sept. 19: “address kamila harrias”
    Sept. 26: “address for barack Obama”
    Sept. 26: “michelle obama mailing address”
    Sept. 26: “joseph biden jr”
    Oct. 1: “address cory booker new jersey”
    Oct. 20: “tom steyers mailing address”
    Oct. 23: “address kamala harris”

Sayoc’s phone also contained photographs of some of the victims.

*                      *                      *

Sayoc, a U.S. citizen, is charged in the Indictment with 30 counts:  one count of six different offenses for each of the five IEDs that he allegedly mailed to Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Soros and De Niro in the Southern District of New York.  In aggregate, the 30 counts in the Indictment carry a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment.  A chart providing more information regarding the charges and potential penalties is set forth below.  The statutory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Counts
           

Charge
           

Penalties Per Count

1 – 5
           

Using a weapon of mass destruction
           

Maximum per count: life

6 – 10
           

Interstate transportation of an explosive
           

Maximum per count: 20 years

11 – 15
           

Conveying a threat in interstate commerce
           

Maximum per count: 5 years

16 – 20
           

Unlawful use of mails
           

Maximum per count: 10 years

21 – 25
           

Carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony
           

Minimum for first conviction: 10 years



Minimum for additional convictions: 20 years

26 – 30
           

Using and carrying a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence
           

Maximum per count: life



Minimum for first conviction: 30 years



Minimum for additional convictions:
life





Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman 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, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for its assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Emil J. Bove III, Jane Kim, and Jason A. Richman of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorneys David Cora and Kiersten Korczynski of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Syrian Man Sentenced for Terrorism-Related Crimes


Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah, aka Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Ahmad, 41, of Syria, was sentenced today to life plus 30 years in prison. Alahmedalabdaloklah was found guilty by a federal jury on March 16, of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to maliciously damage or destroy U.S. Property by weans of an explosive, aiding and abetting other persons to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, and conspiracy to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange for the District of Arizona and Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon of the FBI’s Phoenix field office. The sentence was issued by U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver.

“Alahmedalabdaloklah sought to harm American soldiers by conspiring with others to construct and supply improvised explosive device (IED) parts for bombs that were used in Iraq.  He will now serve the rest of his life in prison,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “The National Security Division will continue to bring to justice those who seek to harm American servicemen and women who bravely risk their lives in defense of our nation.”

“We owe a debt of gratitude to all American military personnel serving overseas.  Protecting and ensuring justice for them is a priority that cannot be overstated,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Strange.  “Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah used his specialized engineering expertise to target our service members using IEDs, and his life sentence reflects the gravity of that choice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is deeply committed to prosecuting terrorist offenses, wherever they may occur.”

“Today’s sentencing underscores the dedication of the FBI and our partners within the Joint Terrorism Task Force in pursuing and disrupting anyone who plans to harm U.S. persons or interests,” said Special Agent in Charge DeLeon.  “We want to thank the Department of Justice and the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office, along with both local and foreign partners for their essential contributions to this case.  The FBI sends our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims, their families, and friends.  The FBI's highest priority remains preventing terrorist attacks and combating terrorism here in the U.S. and around the world."

Between January 2005 and July 2010, Alahmedalabdaloklah designed, made and supplied components parts for IEDs for members and associates of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, an armed Iraqi insurgent group that opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The component parts were intended to be used in IEDs against U.S. military personnel and property in Iraq.

On Aug. 30, 2006, U.S. military personnel discovered what, at that time, was one of the largest IED caches in Iraq at 50 Omar Street, Baghdad, Iraq (Omar Cache).  The Omar Cache included numerous IED-related materials, including a completed IED triggering device that had three of Alahmedalabdaloklah’s fingerprints on the tape wrapped around the device. The U.S. military also seized raw material, tools, test equipment, schematics, and other items related to IED construction, including components for various types of IEDs and bomb making training aids.  One document, which had numerous latent prints belonging to Alahmedalabdaloklah, described how to employ remote technology to command a mobile phone, wireless device and landline phone to detonate explosives.

Alahmedalabdaloklah subsequently moved to China and continued to support the 1920 Revolution Brigades by providing component parts for IEDs.  In May 2011, Alahmedalabdaloklah was detained in the Republic of Turkey while transiting from China.  He was extradited to the United States in August 2014.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the FBI.  The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Pimsner, Melissa Karlen and Bill Solomon for the District of Arizona, and Trial Attorney Joseph Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Akayed Ullah Convicted for Detonation of a Bomb in New York City


Akayed Ullah, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, and a lawful permanent resident from Bangladesh, was convicted today on all six counts of the Indictment, which charged him with offenses related to the detonation and attempted detonation of a bomb in a subway station near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on Dec. 11, 2017.  Ullah, who faces a possible sentence of life in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2019, by the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan, who presided over the one-week trial.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York made the announcement.

“Less than a year ago, Ullah constructed a pipe bomb and detonated it in a mass transit hub in the heart of New York City to harm and terrorize as many people as possible, all on behalf of ISIS.  His crime reminds us that the threat of radical Islamist terrorism remains real,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “This guilty verdict holds Ullah accountable, and he faces a potential life term in federal prison for his crimes. I want to thank all the agents and prosecutors whose outstanding work made this result possible.”

“Late last year, Akayed Ullah detonated a bomb during the bustle of morning rush hour under the Port Authority Bus Terminal,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “Ullah’s sinister purpose was to harm and terrorize as many innocent people in his path as possible, by using deadly violence to make a political statement.  Ullah’s conviction by a unanimous jury of New Yorkers falls on Election Day, which fittingly underscores the core principles of American democracy and spirit:  Americans engage in the political process through votes, not violence.  Today, Ullah stands convicted, he faces a potential life sentence, and his purpose failed.  New York City remains a shining symbol of freedom and hope.”

As set forth in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented at trial:

Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham

ISIS is a foreign terrorist organization based in the Middle East and Africa whose publicly stated purpose is the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate based in the Middle East and Africa that encompasses all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has pursued the objective of an Islamic state through, among other things, killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, mass executions, persecution of individuals and communities on the basis of their religion, nationality, or ethnicity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of Shia communities and minority groups, killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.  ISIS has recruited thousands of foreign fighters from across the globe to assist with its efforts to expand its so-called caliphate in Iraq, Syria, and other locations in Africa and the Middle East, and has leveraged technology to spread its violent extremist ideology and for incitement to commit terrorist acts.

The Dec. 11, 2017 Attack

On Dec. 11, 2017, at approximately 7:20 a.m., Akayed Ullah detonated an improvised explosive device (“IED”) inside a subway terminal (the “Subway Terminal”) in or around the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal located at West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in New York, New York (the “December 11 Attack”).  Shortly after the blast, members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (“PAPD”) located Ullah lying on the ground in the vicinity of the explosion.  Surveillance footage captured Ullah walking through the Subway Terminal and detonating his IED.

Ullah was taken into custody by law enforcement.  During the course of Ullah’s arrest, law enforcement officers located on his person and in the surrounding area what appeared to be the components of an exploded pipe bomb (the “Pipe Bomb”).  Specifically, law enforcement located, among other items, (i) a nine-volt battery inside Ullah’s pants pocket; (ii) wires connected to the battery and running underneath Ullah’s jacket; (iii) two plastic zip ties underneath Ullah’s jacket; (iv) several fragments of a metal pipe, including pieces of a metal end cap, on the ground; (v) the remnants of what appeared to be a Christmas tree lightbulb attached to wires; (vi) metal screws; and (vii) pieces of what appear to be plastic zip ties, among other items.

After Ullah was taken into custody, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he made statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights.  During that interview, Ullah stated, among other things, the following: 

    Ullah constructed the Pipe Bomb and carried out the Dec. 11 Attack.  Ullah was inspired by ISIS to carry out the Dec. 11 Attack, and stated, among other things, “I did it for the Islamic State.”
    Ullah constructed the Pipe Bomb at his residence in Brooklyn (“the Residence”).
    The Pipe Bomb was composed of a metal pipe, which Ullah filled with explosive material that he created.  Ullah used Christmas tree lights, wires, and a nine-volt battery as a trigger to detonate the Pipe Bomb.  Ullah filled the Pipe Bomb with metal screws, which he believed would cause maximum damage.  Ullah used zip ties to secure the Pipe Bomb to his body.
    Ullah carried out the Dec. 11 Attack in part because of the United States Government’s policies in, among other places, the Middle East.  One of Ullah’s goals in carrying out the Dec. 11 Attack was to terrorize as many people as possible.  He chose to carry out the attack on a work day because he believed that there would be more people present.
    Ullah’s radicalization began no later than approximately 2014.  Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands.  He began researching how to build IEDs on the Internet approximately one year prior to the attack.
    On the morning of Dec. 11, 2017, shortly before carrying out the attack, Ullah posted a statement on his Facebook account referring to the President of the United States, stating, in substance, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”  Ullah also posted a statement that he believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that Ullah carried out the attack in the name of ISIS.

Items Recovered from Ullah’s Residence

On Dec. 11, 2017, law enforcement agents searched the Residence pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant.  Law enforcement agents recovered, among other items, (i) multiple pieces of metal pipes; (ii) pieces of wire and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights; (iii) multiple screws consistent with the screws recovered at the scene of the Dec. 11 Attack; and (iv) a passport in Ullah’s name with multiple handwritten notations, including: “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”

 *                     *                      *

Ullah was convicted of one count of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and potential maximum of life, all in connection with Ullah’s alleged detonation of an explosive device in New York City.

 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 Judge Sullivan.

Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI, the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and the PAPD.  Ullah’s conviction is the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – which consists of law enforcement officers of the FBI, NYPD, HSI, PAPD, and other agencies – and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn G. Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski, and George D. Turner of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Jerome J. Teresinski of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.