Wednesday, February 28, 2018

U.S. Citizen Charged With Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Earlier today, a complaint was unsealed charging Bernard Augustine, 21, of Keyes, California, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Commissioner James P. O'Neill of the NYPD announced the charges.  The defendant is scheduled to make his initial appearance today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York before U.S. Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon.

As alleged in the complaint, the defendant traveled to Tunisia in February 2016.  Upon his arrival in Tunisia, the defendant attempted to travel to Libya to enter ISIS-controlled territory.  The defendant was arrested in Tunisia before he was able to travel into Libya.

Prior to his departure from the United States, Augustine repeatedly expressed support for ISIS and for individuals who provided support to the foreign terrorist organization’s mission of violent extremism.  In March 2016, JTTF agents obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s laptop computer.  In reviewing the contents of the defendant’s laptop, agents found evidence that, in the months prior to his departure, the defendant had viewed numerous videos that depicted ISIS leaders and fighters, including fighters engaged in acts of violence.  There was also evidence on the laptop that, during the same period, the defendant viewed videos depicting well-known figures who were public supporters of ISIS or of engaging in violent acts against Westerners, including, among others, Usama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.  In addition, the defendant’s Internet search history information revealed that, in the months leading up to his departure from the United States, the defendant actively searched for information on ISIS, how to join ISIS, radical jihadist propaganda and firearms.  Finally, the investigation revealed that, in the weeks leading up to his travel from the United States, the defendant made numerous postings in online forums expressing support for ISIS and violent jihad.

After Augustine completed his term of imprisonment in Tunisia, he was subject to expulsion and Tunisian authorities transferred the defendant to the custody of the FBI.

If convicted, Augustine faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The charge in the federal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Mr. Demers and Mr. Donoghue extended their grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which comprises a large number of federal, state and local agencies from the region.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Baldwin of the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Raj Parekh of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are in charge of the prosecution.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Iraqis Continue Security, Clearance Operations In Territory Once Held by ISIS

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2018 — With U.S.-led coalition forces in a supporting role, Iraqi security forces continue security and clearance operations in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the director of Pentagon Press Operations, Army Col. Robert Manning told reporters today.

“In Baghdad, [Iraqi] patrol presence continues to lower lawlessness and criminal activity in that area,” he said.

In the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Iraqi forces destroyed an ISIS-held cave network and weapons cache, the colonel said.

“In Kirkuk, an ISIS suicide bomber attack on a government building was foiled by the [Iraqis], resulting in the bomber’s vest detonating, killing the terrorist but not injuring any friendly forces or civilians,” Manning said.

Strikes Near Rutbah

During the past 72 hours, U.S.-led coalition dynamic strikes engaged ISIS targets near Rutbah in Anbar province, the colonel said, adding that the strikes resulted in several enemies killed and the destruction of two pickup trucks, a weapons cache and an encampment.

In Syria, Manning said, Syrian Democratic Forces continue to achieve gains against ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley, and also fortified defensive positions in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Former Police Officer Sentenced for Attempting to Support ISIS

Nicholas Young, 38, of Fairfax, Virginia, and a former police officer, was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and obstruction of justice.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Young was formerly employed as a police officer with the Metro Transit Police Department.  In late July 2016, Young attempted to provide material support and resources to ISIS by purchasing and sending gift card codes that he believed would allow ISIS recruiters to securely communicate with potential ISIS recruits.

Between Dec. 3, 2015, and Dec. 5, 2015, Young attempted to obstruct and impede an official proceeding.  Specifically, Young believed an associate of his, who was actually an FBI confidential human source (CHS), had successfully joined ISIS in late 2014.  During an FBI interview, Young was told the FBI was investigating the attempt of his associate (the CHS) to join ISIS.  Nevertheless, in an attempt to thwart the prosecution of the CHS and himself, Young attempted to deceive investigators as to the destination and purpose of the CHS’s travel.

Additionally, in November 2014, Young attempted to obstruct, influence and impede an official proceeding of the Grand Jury by sending a text message to the CHS’s cell phone in order to make it falsely appear to the FBI that Young believed that the CHS had left the United States to go on vacation in Turkey.  In actuality, Young believed the CHS had gone to Turkey and then to Syria in order to join and fight for ISIS.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and John T. Gibbs, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Turgeon of the Eastern District of Virginia; and Trial Attorney David P. Cora of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.