In recent weeks, ISIL sympathizers have wound their way through the court system across the country from Arizona to Florida.
Latest in Terrorism Trials & Investigations
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
We barely made it though one week of November without new material support charges. On Tuesday, Justice Department announced that Aaron Travis Daniels, a 20 year old from Columbus, Ohio was arrested at the airport while trying to board a flight for Trinidad—his first stop en route to Libya to join ISIL.
The Justice Department has now issued a press release on the charges leveled against Ahmad Khan Rahami for his suspected role in the bombings this past weekend in New York and New Jersey. With the glut of news available on Rahami's arrest and possible motives, it's useful to take a step back and review the information presented in the press release and the criminal complaints now filed against Rahami.
Rahami has been in custody (and in the hospital in Newark) for about two days at this point. The public record reveals very little about the interrogation process thusfar. What we do know is that federal charges are now pending both in Manhattan and in New Jersey, and that it appears that he will first face those New York charges. At some point when his medical situation permits, that is, he'll be moved to New York and the prosecution will begin to unfold.
Police in New Jersey have located and arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami, the prime suspect in the Chelsea and New Jersey bombings. Rahami fired on the officers who found him, striking two of them and then being shot himself (in the shoulder, possibly). He is now in custody and receiving medical care at a hospital in Newark. And now officials face an important—and potentially quite controversial—set of decisions regarding how to go about interrogating Rahami.
Over the past few weeks, the Justice Department has continued to tie up loose ends in the realm of criminal terrorism prosecutions.
On Wednesday in Fairfax, Virginia, the FBI arrested Nicholas Young, a 36-year-old police officer with the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority, on charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIL. As we mentioned several weeks ago, the Washington, D.C. area has recently seen an uptick in men attempting to travel overseas to join ISIL, or otherwise providing support to the designated terrorist group.