Thursday, June 23, 2016

DHS Releases Revised National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin

In the aftermath of the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a revision to its National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin, which promotes public vigilance and awareness. The bulletin describes the government's counterterrorism efforts and ways in which the public can be prepared and stay informed. Individuals are urged to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. You can download the bulletin from

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Indiana Man Arrested on Terrorism Charge

18 Year Old Attempted to Travel Overseas to Join ISIL

A Brownsburg, Indiana, man was arrested today for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana and Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott of the FBI’s Indiana Division.

Akram Musleh, 18, was arrested by FBI agents while attempting to board a bus from Indianapolis to New York, where he was to fly to and transit through Morocco on his way to ISIL-controlled territory.  The criminal complaint alleges that he planned to provide personnel (himself) to ISIL.

“According to the complaint, Musleh attempted to travel overseas to join ISIL and to provide material support to the designated terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who attempt to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“The radicalization of American citizens by terrorist organizations like ISIL is a threat to our safety here and abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Minkler.  “I am committed to using the full authority of the United States Attorney’s Office to identify, investigate and prosecute those that provide material support to terrorists.  I would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Brownsburg Police Department for working with us during this investigation.  We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners but as in this case, we rely heavily on the public’s assistance to help make our community safe.”

“Terrorism is the FBI’s number one priority and we work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our community,” said Special Agent in Charge Abbott.  “This case demonstrates the value of law enforcement collaboration and community engagement.”

A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.  If convicted, Musleh faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

This prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bradley Shepard and Doris Pryor of the Southern District of Indiana and Trial Attorneys Paul Casey and Kiersten Korczynski of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Two California Men Convicted of Conspiring to Join ISIL

A federal jury today convicted two Orange County, California, men – one of whom attempted to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization – of conspiring to provide material support to ISIL.

The verdict was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Nader Elhuzayel, 25, and Muhanad Badawi, 25, both of Anaheim, California, were convicted today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California following a two-week trial.  Elhuzayel was found guilty of attempting to provide material support and Badawi was found guilty of aiding and abetting the attempt to provide material support to ISIL.

“Foreign terrorist fighters have traveled from countries around the world to join ISIL and are responsible for some of the most despicable acts of violence committed by the terrorist organization,”  said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “ISIL depends on these travelers as a significant part of its fighting force.  Stopping Americans from engaging in terrorist activity on behalf of ISIL here or abroad will remain one of the highest priorities of the National Security Division.”

“These two defendants betrayed their country and sought to join ISIL, a terrorist organization dedicated to brutally murdering innocent people,” said U.S. Attorney Decker.  “The FBI and the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force did outstanding work in investigating and apprehending these men before their plans could be completed.  The fine work of law enforcement undoubtedly saved lives, both in the United States and abroad.”

“These convictions are a message to those who aim to travel to take up arms with ISIL and to those who support them – the FBI and our partners are determined to thwart your efforts,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fike.  “The JTTF’s proactive identification of these subjects and disruption of a terrorist conspiracy is a coup in the fight against the scourge of ISIL.  At trial, the jury heard evidence that Mr. Badawi also encouraged other associates to support ISIL and participate in violent jihad.  This is a reminder that our work is not done and the public must remain steadfast and report suspicious behavior, whether that behavior is carried out in person or online.”

In addition to the terrorism-related counts, Elhuzayel was found guilty of 26 counts of bank fraud and Badawi was found guilty of one count of federal financial aid fraud.

Both men were arrested on May 21, 2015, when Elhuzayel attempted to board a plane at Los Angeles International Airport to travel to Turkey to join ISIL.  Badawi had purchased for Elhuzayel a one-way ticket to Israel with a layover in Istanbul.

Badawi and Elhuzayel used social media to discuss ISIL and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the United States to join ISIL.  In recorded conversations, Badawi and Elhuzayel discussed “how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield.”

The evidence at trial also showed that Badawi had a Facebook account, on which he made posts that supported ISIL and violence aimed at non-Muslims, and he said he intended to join the terrorist organization.  Elhuzayel also had a Facebook account and used the ISIL flag as his profile picture.  According to court documents, on Oct. 21, 2014, Badawi made a video of Elhuzayel in which Elhuzayel swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, and pledged to travel to Syria to be an ISIL fighter.

Elhuzayel was convicted of obtaining cash through a scheme to defraud three different banks by depositing stolen checks into his personal checking accounts and then withdrawing cash at branch offices and ATMs in Orange County.  The money generated from the bank fraud was to finance his travel to Syria to join ISIL.

Badawi was convicted of using his federal financial aid to purchase a plane ticket for Elhuzayel to travel to Turkey.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California scheduled Elhuzayel’s sentencing hearing for Sept. 19, 2016, and Badawi’s sentencing hearing for Sept. 26, 2016.

At the time of sentencing, Elhuzayel will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on each bank fraud count, Badawi faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the financial aid fraud count and both men each face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison on each material support count.

Both men have been held in federal custody without bond since their arrests.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County, which includes the following agencies: the Anaheim Police Department; the California Highway Patrol; the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Secret Service; IRS-Criminal Investigation; the City of Orange, California, Police Department; the Irvine, California, Police Department; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; and the Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.  The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General provided substantial assistance in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judith A. Heinz, Deirdre Z. Eliot and Julius J. Nam of the Central District of California, with assistance from Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.