Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Anti-ISIL Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria Continue



From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 29, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted three airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Idlib, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL structure.

-- Near Haditha, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Mosul, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL tunnel entrance.

-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL structure and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

New York Man Arrested and Charged with Attempting to Provide Support to ISIL



Arafat M. Nagi, 42, of Lackawanna, New York, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support and resources, namely personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. of the Western District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig of the FBI’s Buffalo, New York, Division made the announcement today.

“Our continuing fight against international terrorism today returns to Western New York,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.  “As alleged, Arafat Nagi pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and the leader of this terrorist organization.  After buying military combat gear, he traveled twice to Turkey in an effort to help the group.  Thanks to the combined efforts of law enforcement and community members, this defendant is no longer capable of achieving his goal of joining the most despicable group of our time.”

“The FBI has a responsibility to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are positioned to identify existing or emerging threats,” said Special Agent in Charge Boetig.  “Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) serve as the national platforms for deterring, detecting and disrupting terrorist machinations.  The JTTF in Buffalo relies on community engagement to gain perspectives on radicalization and to deter recruitment and the spread of radicalization messages.  We continue to call upon people to contact law enforcement if they know of someone who has been influenced by ISIL rhetoric on social media – powerful propaganda that calls for followers to commit quick and unpredictable violent acts.”

According to the complaint, on Aug. 28, 2014, a Lackawanna community member advised the FBI that Nagi talks about violent jihad to various people in the community and it is common for Nagi to get into verbal arguments regarding his jihadi beliefs.

Further investigation determined that Nagi pledged allegiance to ISIL and the leader of the terrorist group, Abu Bakr al Bagdadi.  The defendant traveled to Turkey on two occasions, in October 2012 and July 2014, with the intention to meet with members of the group.  Evidence revealed that prior to these trips, the defendant purchased large number of military combat items, including a tactical vest, army combat shirt, body armor, a Shahada Flag, combat boots, a backpack, burn kit, hunting knife, machete and night vision goggles.

During follow up interviews in December 2014 and March 2015, the community member who alerted the FBI regarding Nagi’s actions stated that the defendant still possessed radical political and religious views.  According to the individual, Nagi was angry about the killing of rebels in Yemen, which he blamed on the United States; pledged an oath to ISIL leaders; expressed agreement with ISIL tactics, including the killing of innocent men, women and children; and planned to travel to Yemen and Turkey again soon. 

Nagi will make his initial appearance this morning at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott in the Western District of New York.

The complaint is the culmination of an investigation by the FBI’s Buffalo JTTF, which includes the Amherst, New York, Police Department; the Buffalo Police Department; the U.S. Department of State; the Federal Protective Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Internal Revenue Service; the New York State Police; the Niagara County, New York, Sheriff’s Office; the Niagara Falls, New York, Police Department; the Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol; and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Branch.  Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Florida Resident Charged with Attempting to Use Weapon of Mass Destruction



Defendant, Allegedly Inspired by ISIL, Attempted to Obtain Weapons and Explosives to Conduct Attacks

Harlem Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, 23, of Key West, Florida, was charged by a criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

“According to the complaint, Harlem Suarez, a self-professed ISIL adherent, knowingly attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction - a backpack bomb - in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Stopping attacks on our homeland by those inspired or directed by designated foreign terrorist organizations is the highest priority of the National Security Division.”

“The top priority of the Department of Justice is to protect the security of the American people,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with the FBI, works tirelessly to advance this mission by continuing to thwart home-grown acts of terrorism.”

“There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro.  “The FBI and our local, state and federal partners work around the clock to prevent such catastrophic weapons from being used against our citizens.  Even so, we ask the public to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

According to the complaint, in April 2015, Suarez came to the attention of the FBI due to Facebook posts that contained extremist rhetoric and promoted the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The complaint further alleges that Suarez told the confidential source that he wanted to make a “timer bomb.”  Suarez purchased components for this device, which was to contain galvanized nails, be concealed in a backpack and be remotely detonated by a cellphone.  Suarez intended to bury the device at a public beach in Key West and then detonate it.

On July 27, 2015, Suarez took possession of an inert device and was arrested.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI,  members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Key West Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc S. Anton and Karen E. Gilbert and Trial Attorneys Clement McGovern and Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.

A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.