Friday, July 15, 2016

Virginia Man Sentenced to 102 Months in Prison for Attempting to Travel to Syria to Join ISIL

Joseph Hassan Farrokh, 29, of Woodbridge, Virginia, was sentenced today to 102 months in prison for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement

“With this sentence, Joseph Hassan Farrokh will be held accountable for attempting 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.”

“Farrokh’s state of mind and conduct in this case were egregious and go to the heart of the safety of our community and the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “This office will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland.”

“Joseph Farrokh admitted to attempting to travel to Syria to join and fight with ISIL in support of its oppressive, violent and criminal agenda,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.  “Thanks to the relentless work of agents, analysts and prosecutors, together with the essential contributions of our partners in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, we were able to disrupt those plans and bring him to justice.  The FBI’s highest priority remains preventing terrorist attacks and combating terrorism here in the U.S. and around world.”

U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia imposed today’s sentence and also ordered Farrokh to serve 10 years of supervised release.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Farrokh conspired with Mahmoud Amin Elhassan, 25, also of Woodbridge, to travel from the United States to Syria in order to fight with ISIL.  As part of their plan, Farrokh would travel first, followed by Elhassan at a later date.  Farrokh and Elhassan spoke in detail about their potential travel, including discussing the different routes each would take to travel to Syria.  Farrokh also provided $600 to Elhassan to aid in Elhassan’s future travel to Syria.  Both men spoke openly with each other about supporting ISIL and supporting violent jihad and on Oct. 2, 2015, Farrokh stated that he had no patience and wanted to go right away and “chop their heads.”

According to the statement of facts, in an effort to conceal their plans to support ISIL, Farrokh and Elhassan communicated using apps they believed were safe from law enforcement detection.  In the summer of 2015, Farrokh and Elhassan talked more seriously about going to join ISIL and concluded that they needed someone to help them do so.  Elhassan contacted like-minded people all over the world and the men pursued two separate plans to travel to Syria to join ISIL, but neither plan worked out.

According to the statement of facts, Farrokh and Elhassan conspired with other persons they believed would help facilitate their travel to Syria.  Over the course of many meetings, the men discussed in detail their travel plans and efforts to avoid law enforcement detection, including Farrokh shaving his beard and flying out of Richmond International Airport, where they believed there would be less security.  Farrokh and Elhassan agreed that Farrokh should tell his family that he intended to travel to Saudi Arabia to study.

According to the statement of facts, on Jan. 15, 2016, Elhassan picked up Farrokh at his home in Woodbridge and drove him to a location approximately one mile from the Richmond airport.  Farrokh then took a cab to the airport, checked in for his flight, cleared security and was arrested as he was approaching his departure gate.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and Dennis M. Fitzpatrick of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case with Trial Attorney D. Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Science and Technology Hosts Facebook Town Hall

Through its Flood Apex Program, DHS S&T seeks to apply new technologies and solutions to the risks posed by flooding: risks that confront individuals, communities, states and regions.

You are invited to participate in a Facebook Town Hall on Flood Resilience on Wednesday, July 20, at 1 p.m.; focus for this session will be on individual decision making, or how S&T and its partners can help reduce flood fatalities, decrease uninsured losses and enable better mitigation decisions. Visit

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Cincinnati-Area Man Pleads Guilty to Plot to Attack U.S. Government Officers

Defendant was Directed to Launch Attacks by Deceased ISIL Recruiter Junaid Hussain

Munir Abdulkader, 21, of West Chester, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.  Abdulkader was charged for his plot to kill an employee of a U.S. military installation and then attack a local police station, all in the Southern District of Ohio.

The unsealing today of the charges and plea agreement were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Division.

According to the statement of facts admitted by Adbulkader as part of his guilty plea, beginning in at least July 2014 and continuing into 2015, Abdulkader expressed his support for ISIL on Twitter.  From approximately March 2015 to mid-April 2015, Abdulkader began speaking with a confidential human source (CHS) about his desire and intention to travel to Syria in order to join ISIL, and then began making plans and preparations to travel overseas.  He secured a passport, saved money for the trip and researched the necessary logistical details.  However, in approximately late April 2015, Abdulkader expressed concerns about his ability to travel and postponed his original departure date of approximately May 2, 2015.

In May 2015, Abdulkader was in communication with one or more individuals located overseas who he understood were members of ISIL.  One of the individuals was a member of ISIL identified as Junaid Hussein.  Through these communications, Hussein directed and encouraged Abdulkader to plan and execute a violent attack within the United States.  Abdulkader communicated with Hussein and the CHS about a plan to kill an identified military employee on account of his position with the U.S. government.  The plan included abducting the employee at the employee’s home and filming the execution.  After killing the employee, Abdulkader planned to perpetrate a violent attack on a police station in the Southern District of Ohio using firearms and Molotov cocktails.

In preparation for the attacks, Abdulkader asked the CHS to purchase a vest for holding ammunition.  On or about May 18, 2015, Abdulkader conducted surveillance on a police station in the Southern District of Ohio.  On or about May 20, 2015, Abdulkader went to a shooting range, learned how to operate certain firearms and practiced shooting the firearms.  Abdulkader also negotiated the purchase of a firearm, an AK-47 assault rifle.  On May 21, 2015, in a controlled purchase, Abdulkader bought the AK-47 assault rifle and was subsequently arrested.

Abdulkader was charged by complaint on May 22, 2015.  An information was filed against Abdulkader on March 2, 2016, and he pleaded guilty to the three charges in the information on March 24, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio.

Attempted murder of government employees and officials carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Material support of a foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.  Possession of a firearm in furtherance of an attempted crime of violence carries a mandatory sentence of five years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the JTTF.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Mangan and Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.