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.