• Terrorism

    Author : September 25, 2018

    Terrorism is probably the most pressing issue when it comes to national security. America's prosecutors face unique challenges in bringing cases against terrorists, particularly against U.S. citizens when they aid or abet foreign threats abroad. August proved to be a busy time for charges and convictions against those contributing to terrorists and their organizations.

    In Boston, the son of a police captain was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in an ISIS-inspired terrorist plot. His own father tipped off federal agents. Alexander Ciccolo had a pseudonym of Ali Al Amriki. In July 2015, he was arrested after he received firearms that were illegal based on his prior conviction. The police, through a sting operation, also obtained recordings of him talking about plans to fill pressure cookers with nails and ball bearings, reminiscent of the Boston marathon bombing, which Ciccolo was reportedly inspired by. After a warrant and a search, police also found partially made Molotov cocktails in his apartment. In addition to his sentence, once released he will be subject to lifetime supervision.

    Down in Miami, the Department of Justice recently indicted Samuel Baptiste, age 25, of four counts for distributing information regarding explosives, one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists. According to court documents, Baptiste found, posted and re-posted online documents that included instructions on how to make a homemade pipe bomb, improvised explosive devices, and other arms. His intention is allegedly for the purposes of an activity in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of federal law. The government further claims that, by posting these documents online, he attempted to aid ISIS. If convicted, then he faces up to 20 years in prison.

    In Hawaii, in what is the states first conviction of someone attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army pled guilty to the charges, admitting that he provided support to ISIS. According to court records, Sgt. Ikaika Erik Kang regularly watched ISIS propaganda online, including violent executions of both civilian and military personnel. He became a sympathizer, regularly expressed support and a desire to join ISIS. He was placed under surveillance, and in July 2018, Kang began meeting with undercover FBI agents based on the belief that they were connected to ISIS. He provided these agents with sensitive military documents, many of which were classified as ‘Secret.' He intended these to be provided to ISIS at some point. He also provided the agents with drones and military-grade equipment, and provided training sessions to individuals he believed were high-ranking ISIS members. Kang also swore an oath of loyalty to ISIS, after which he claimed to want to get his rifle and visit downtown Honolulu and start shooting indiscriminately. He was arrested shortly thereafter.

    Finally, in June of this year, the suspect in the latest terror attack in New York was arraigned on new charges of attempted murder, in addition to the previous 22 charges lodged against him. Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov is accused of driving a pickup truck down a bike path and hitting pedestrians in the financial district on Halloween last year. He killed 8 people and injured 11 people. His truck ran into a school bus, which stopped it. When he existed, he wielded weapons (later determined to be non-deadly) and was shot in the stomach by police. Amongst his now 28 counts, he is also accused of providing material support to ISIS. If convicted, he faces a significant prison sentence.

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