War on Terrorism

Friday, August 31, 2018

Miami Resident Indicted for Online Distribution of Information Pertaining to Explosives and Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization


Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today that that a Grand Jury sitting in Miami, Florida returned an indictment against Samuel Baptiste, 25, of Miami, Florida, charging him with four counts of distributing information pertaining to explosives, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 842(p)(2)(A), one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1), and one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339A.             

Baptiste, who is currently serving an 80 month prison sentence on federal firearms charges, had his initial appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres on August 27, 2018. A detention hearing is scheduled before a U.S. Magistrate Judge, in Miami, on August 30, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

According to allegations contained within the indictment, on November 6, 2016, Baptiste posted and distributed online documents titled “Instructions: How to Make a Homemade Pipe Bomb,” “Pipe Bombs,” “Improvised Explosive Devices,” and “Improvised Munitions Black Book, Volume 1,” with the intent that the information be used for and in furtherance of an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence.  Moreover, by posting these documents, Baptiste attempted to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically ISIS.

If convicted, Baptiste faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison as to each of count of distributing information and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and fifteen years in prison for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. In addition, Baptiste faces up to three years of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine on each count of conviction.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division and the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc S. Anton and Michael Thakur.  Department of Justice Counterterrorism Attorney Joseph Attias provided assistance with this matter.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

U.S. Soldier Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS


Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks, pleaded guilty today in federal court to four counts of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  Kang was indicted on terrorism charges on July 19, 2017.  As part of a plea agreement reached with the United States, Kang agreed to serve 25 years in prison and at least 20 years, and up to life, of supervised release.  Kang will be sentenced on Dec. 10, by Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway.  If Judge Mollway accepts the plea agreement at that time, the 25-year term of imprisonment will be binding.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price for the District of Hawaii, and Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office.

“Kang swore to defend the United States as a member of our military, but betrayed his country by swearing allegiance to ISIS and attempting to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “With today’s plea, he will be held accountable for his crimes.  I want to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.” 

“This Office will vigorously prosecute anyone who attempts to provide material support to terrorists who seek to spread fear and cause mayhem in our communities through senseless acts of violence,” said U.S. Attorney Price.  “The prosecutors and law enforcement agencies who brought the defendant to justice in this case work shoulder-to-shoulder, every day, promoting our national security interests and keeping our communities safe.”

“This is the first case in the State of Hawaii where someone was convicted of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” Special Agent in Charge Kaul.  “This should serve as reminder that even though we are 2,500 miles from the U.S. Mainland, these crimes can and do happen everywhere.  I would like to personally thank the United States Attorney’s Office, the Unites States Army, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Honolulu Police Department, and the entire Joint Terrorism Task Force Community here in Hawaii for bringing this investigation to a successful conclusion.  Today, our community is a safer place due to their tireless efforts.”  

According to court documents and information presented in court, Kang became sympathetic to ISIS by at least early 2016.  He regularly watched ISIS propaganda videos online, including videos that depicted ISIS members violently executing civilian and military victims.  Kang made numerous statements in support of ISIS, expressed a desire to join ISIS, and spoke approvingly about committing acts of violence.  At the time, Kang made these statements, he owned an AR-15-style assault rifle and a pistol, both of which he kept at his residence on Oahu.  Kang was under ongoing physical surveillance by law enforcement from the beginning of the investigation until the time of his eventual arrest.

In late June and early July of 2018, Kang met numerous times with undercover FBI agents who he believed had connections to ISIS.  He provided them with sensitive, non-public military documents, some of which were classified at the SECRET level, which he intended that they later provide to ISIS.  The documents included, among other things: classified air traffic control documents that describe call signs, aircraft types, route points, directives, mission procedures, and radio frequencies; the U.S. military’s “weapons file,” which describes all the armament capabilities of the U.S. armed forces; details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system used by the U.S. military; and documents containing personally identifiable information of U.S. service members.

Kang later provided the undercover agents with a commercially purchased small aerial drone, a military chest rig, and other military-style clothing and gear.  Kang described how ISIS could operationally utilize the drone to track U.S. troop movements and gain tactical advantage by evading American armored vehicles.  Kang then met two additional undercover FBI personnel, one who purported to be a high-ranking ISIS leader, or “sheikh,” and another who played the role of an ISIS fighter.  Kang lead them in a hand-to-hand military combatives training session using his weapons, in order to train the purported ISIS member in fighting techniques.  The sessions were video-recorded, with the understanding that the video would be taken back to ISIS-controlled territory and used to train other ISIS fighters in hand-to-hand combat and weapons techniques.

On July 8, 2017, Kang swore an oath of loyalty, known as “bayat,” to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a ceremony conducted by the purported ISIS sheikh.  After the ceremony, Kang kissed the ISIS flag.  Kang then said that he wanted to get his rifle and go and fight; just go to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki strip and start shooting.  Kang was subsequently arrested and taken into custody.

This case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Honolulu; the FBI; and the U.S. Army, Criminal Investigative Division, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Marc A. Wallenstein of the District of Hawaii, and Trial Attorney Taryn M. Meeks of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Miami Resident Arrested for Making Multiple Bomb Threats

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today the arrest of Michael Mora, 35, of Miami, Florida, on a criminal complaint charging him with making hoax bomb threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(e).  Mora had his initial appearance today in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres.

According to allegations contained within the complaint, on August 21, 2018, the Dadeland Mall located in Miami, Florida received a bomb threat via their customer inquiry form.  Further investigation revealed that this threat originated from Mora’s residence, and while investigating this threat, law enforcement learned that bomb threats made by Mora had also been made against the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and Fort Knox.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division, the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and Miami-Dade Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc S. Anton.

A complaint is an accusation.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.