In the past few months, prosecutors have tried, juries have convicted, and judges have sentenced defendants from the height of the Islamic State’s power in 2014–15. Meanwhile, American law enforcement continues to prosecute individuals involved in terrorist-related crimes in the United States, even as new challenges—like prosecuting foreign Islamic State fighters—arise.
Latest in Terrorism Investigations: Domestic
The FBI has taken custody of Cesar Altieri Sayoc in connection with the attempted mailing of 13 pipe bombs to prominent former government officials, including former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and other public figures. The Department of Justice has brought five charges against Sayoc in the Southern District of New York.
The National Security Division of the Justice Department released several press releases last week—and surprisingly, none of the cases had a nexus to the Islamic State.
On February 21st, twenty-five year old Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr. was charged in federal district court in the Western District of Missouri with attempting to provide material support to ISIL. Hester is the second person—after Noor Salman, the wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter—to be arrested on material support charges by the FBI in 2017.
In recent weeks, ISIL sympathizers have wound their way through the court system across the country from Arizona to Florida.
On January 19th, in federal district court in New York, Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 21-year-old citizen of Kazakhstan, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, according to the Justice Department’s press release.
Late last week, a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned a two-count indictment against Noor Zahi Salman, the wife of Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen. On June 12, Mateen opened fired in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.
During the month of December, the Justice Department kept busy with the usual counterterrorism suspects—ISIL supporters (mostly young men) in Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina were arrested, sentenced, and pleaded guilty in federal district courts. The Department’s counterterrorism headlines over the past few weeks also covered a range of more unusual cases in both international terrorism and domestic terrorism, including the sentencing of an international arms trafficker and a Ku Klux Klan member.
International Terrorism Prosecutions
This week, federal district courts in Ohio and Illinois sentenced two men on material support charges. Meanwhile, another FBI counterterrorism suspect was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, and Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston shooter, was found competent to stand trial.
Nearly two months after his arrest, Ahmed Khan Rahimi was indicted in federal court in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, on charges related to the September bombing and attempted bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey.