Wisconsin: Muslim convert pleads guilty to trying to join Islamic State terrorists

Source: Madison local admits to trying to join ISIS · The Badger Herald

Madison native Joshua Van Haften pleaded guilty to trying to join the Islamic State Thursday.

Van Haften was arrested in Turkey May 2015 and eventually deported and arrested in Chicago. Adam Stevenson, University of Wisconsin associate law professor, said Van Haften’s guilty plea means that he accepted allegations that he was trying to join ISIS.

Van Haften maintained a strong online connection with reported ISIS members. The 34-year-old traveled to Turkey, which is typically considered the entry point for people involved with ISIS, to meet a reported ISIS contact, Stevenson said. Van Haften, however, was unsuccessful and arrested.

Stevenson said the next stage in Van Haften’s case would be to estimate his sentence. In order to come up with a sentence, the federal court must further investigate the defendant and allows both sides to give their positions.

Every case follows the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which recommend a range for the sentence based on a point system. The defendant and the crime they committed will be assigned points based on different aspects of the case, Stevenson said.

Van Haften’s case is based on him providing material support to a terrorist organization. Stevenson said he estimates Van Haften’s sentencing range to start with approximately five years. In addition to this sentencing range, defendants may be required to serve 15 extra years as well.

Van Haften’s case will also be evaluated on the basis of other factors like his past criminal record. Stevenson said Van Haften has one prior conviction on his record, which could affect his case.

Van Haften will be sentenced in February 2017.

More on the sex offender who got played by Muslims in Turkey in our previous post on his arrest.

New York: Muslim college student killed waging jihad for Islamic State

Once again destroying the myth that Muslim terrorists are poor, uneducated souls who are lacking opportunities. This Muslim jihadist was attending college…in pricey Manhattan. The media apparently won’t reveal what college he attended (was he an MSA member?) or his immigration status.

Source: Goshen grad killed fighting for ISIS, prosecutors say | Goshen and Chester NY | Local News

— A 2008 Goshen High School graduate killed fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria made a video trying to clear the name of an Arizona man who was charged with helping him join, prosecutors said.

The 24-year-old student’s November death was revealed in papers filed Monday and Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. The student was identified in court papers as Samy El-Goarany.

The Arizona man, Ahmed Mohammed el Gammal, who’s accused of helping the student travel to Syria and receive military and religious-style training, was arrested last year and has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers said the video is unreliable and “overly prejudicial” and should be precluded from a trial scheduled for December.

Prosecutors say El-Goarany left his parents’ home in Middletown, New York, in January 2015, telling them he was returning to his Manhattan college. Instead, the government said, he flew to Turkey and then Syria.

Reached by phone, El-Goarany’s father said the family didn’t wish to speak. Court papers did not identify El-Goarany’s college.

Prosecutors said an unidentified person contacted a relative in November to say El-Goarany was killed fighting in Syria. The person provided photographs of a handwritten note in which the student said, “If you’re reading this then know that I’ve been killed in battle,” prosecutors said.

The government also said it had found a YouTube video in which El-Goarany, clad in military fatigues, said on Sept. 8, 2015, two weeks after el Gammal’s arrest, that he was in the “Islamic State.”

Prosecutors said El-Goarany claimed in the video in an “unabashed effort to falsely exculpate el Gammal — that no one assisted him in traveling to Syria, including ‘Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal.”‘

Prosecutors argued in the court papers that the video should be admissible at trial to show El-Goarany went to Syria to join the Islamic State group and that he and his co-conspirators took extensive measures to maintain secrecy in the group’s methods for recruiting personnel and helping recruits travel.

El-Goarany’s lawyers said in court papers that the video depicts their client sitting on a mat in a sparsely decorated room. They say he states his name, explains he is a U.S. citizen “currently residing in the Islamic State” and says el Gammal did not assist him in his travels.

The lawyers said the video should not be shown to jurors because it “constitutes inadmissible hearsay.”

“Additionally, the entire video should be precluded as overly prejudicial,” they wrote, noting that El-Goarany is unavailable to testify at el Gammal’s trial and cannot further explain how el Gammal did not facilitate his travel.

The defense lawyers also challenged the admissibility of El-Goarany’s handwritten note, saying claims of his death were “unreliable,” especially since he had written to his brother weeks earlier to say he might have to fall out of contact because he was being monitored.

“It is not beyond the stretch of the imagination that the letter was written so that El-Goarany could ‘disappear,”‘ the lawyers wrote.

According to The Chronicle archives, Samy M. El-Goarany graduated in 2008 with a Regent’s Diploma.

The lawyer makes a good point, he may not be dead and if not, may attempt to come back into the U.S. at any time as a Syrian “refugee.”

Houston: Iraqi Muslim refugee who plotted to bomb American malls pleads guilty

Source: Houston man who pledged allegiance to ISIS, plotted to bomb malls pleads guilty to terrorism charge – Houston Chronicle

A Houston man who pledged his allegiance to ISIS and plotted to detonate homemade bombs in local shopping malls pleaded guilty Monday to a terrorism-related charge.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a 24-year-old father, stockpiled circuitry components, wireless remotes and other bomb-making implements in his west Houston apartment, according to court documents.

“I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin,” he once said, according to prosecutors. “I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America.”

A prayer list for committing jihad and becoming a martyr was found among his belongings, as was an ISIL flag, according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Ken Magidson.

Al Hardan  pleaded guilty on one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or ISIS. He had been facing two other charges for allegedly lying during the application process for U.S. citizenship.

His attorney, David Adler, could not be reached for comment.

Al Hardan originally entered the country as an Iraqi refugee in 2009. He gained legal permanent residence in 2011 and settled in the Houston area.

Feds started investigating him in April 2014, looking at his communications with other suspected terrorists and monitoring his menacing social media posts.

In November 2014, according to the plea agreement, Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to ISIL.

Al Hardan said he will stay in custody till his January sentencing hearing. He is facing up to 20 years in federal prison. Prosecutors agreed as part of the plea deal not to see up to $250,000 in fines.

As noted previously, Iraqi Muslim refugee wanted to bomb malls, said “I am against America”

…Al Hardan was coordinating efforts with another Iraqi refugee living in California, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab. The two men communicated through Facebook messenger from April 2013 to October 2014 and talked about getting weapons training and eventually sneaking into Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group, Wittliff said.

“Once I get the passport I will leave America, I will leave. I will make a widow of you,” Al Hardan said to his wife, according to the excerpt read in court. “I will go to Syria. I am not wacko. I am not wacko. I am speaking the truth. I want to blow myself up. I want to blow myself up … I am against America.”

And don’t forget, it certainly appears that this ISIS-supporting Muslim refugee brought another Muslim refugee to the U.S. to be his child bride.



Florida: Pensacola man arrested over ISIS threats to attack military bases, beaches, and schools

Source: Department of Justice

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Regis L. Walker, 30, of Pensacola, has been arrested on a charge of mailing threatening communications.  The criminal complaint was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

According to the criminal complaint affidavit, Walker mailed a threatening letter on notebook paper to Sheriff Morgan at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.  The affidavit further alleges that Walker claimed several people who had joined ISIS would simultaneously attack military bases, beaches, and schools at a nonspecific time and could not be stopped by law enforcement.  Walker appeared to sign the note as “ISIS ALLAH.”

The punishment for the crime alleged is a maximum of five years in prison.  Walker will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Santa Rosa County Jail pending further judicial proceedings.  Future court appearances will take place in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola on a date to be determined.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

More from the walker_complaint.pdf

The writer stated that five to ten attacks could not be stopped (stating law enforcement “cannot be everywhere at once”), and that the attackers planned on “not giving up” and “dying.” 
Your affiant determined that Walker is a registered sex offender and has as his listed address XXXXX Street, Pensacola, Florida. This location is within
approximately five (5) miles of the Jordan Street Post Office. Your affiant also determined that Walker was arrested on June 22,2016, on unrelated harassment
type charges. Walker also appears to have a prior conviction for Aggravated Assault (pursuant to review of the Escambia County Clerk of Court website).


Wisconsin: Two Muslims arrested on way to join ISIS, take part in jihad

L-R, Jason Ludke (Photo from: Brown County Jail), Yosvany Padilla-Conde (Photo from: Tom Green County Jail, Texas).

L-R, Jason Ludke (Photo from: Brown County Jail), Yosvany Padilla-Conde (Photo from: Tom Green County Jail, Texas).

Source: Two Wisconsin Men Charged With Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL | OPA | Department of Justice

Jason Michael Ludke, 35, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Yosvany Padylla-Conde, 30, also of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was charged in the same complaint with aiding and abetting Ludke’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL.

Ludke and Padylla-Conde were arrested near San Angelo, Texas. The complaint alleges that the two were traveling from Wisconsin to Mexico where they intended to acquire travel documents necessary to travel overseas to join ISIL.

If convicted of these offenses both men face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00.

More via Milwaukee men accused of trying to join Islamic State group

According to the complaint, Ludke and Padilla-Conde began corresponding on social media with an undercover FBI employee last month and said they planned to travel to Mexico, where they could get passage to Syria and join the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Ludke said he converted to Islam in 2003 and wanted to live under Shariah law. He also said he was tired of living under the infidel’s system and wanted to strive for paradise.

The undercover FBI employee received an email on Oct. 1 containing a video of Padilla-Conde and Ludke with a handmade Islamic State group flag in the background. Ludke said Padilla-Conde was striving to reach paradise as well, according to the complaint.

The undercover employee told Ludke that people in Mexico would be able to get them passports for Arab counties. On Oct. 5 Ludke told the employee that he and Padilla-Conde were in Texas heading toward El Paso. Police captured them near San Angelo later that day.

Ludke told FBI agents that he and Padilla-Conde left Wisconsin because they couldn’t pay their rent and he was looking to meet his brother-in-law in Mexico, although he couldn’t provide his brother-in-law’s name or information on his whereabouts. Ludke added he and Padilla-Conde discussed traveling to Yemen so Ludke could study Arabic, according to the complaint.

Padilla-Conde told agents he left Wisconsin because he was about to be evicted and Lude wanted to travel to Iraq or Yemen to take part in jihad, an Arabic term for holy war, and often spoke of joining the Islamic State, according to the complaint. He said he tried to talk Ludke out of it, the complaint said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the men had attorneys. The federal public defender’s office said no defenders were listed for them in Texas. Court records show Ludke appeared without counsel during an initial court appearance in Texas on Wednesday. Padilla-Conde was scheduled to make his initial appearance in Abilene on Monday.

Joshua Van Haften of Madison was charged last year with trying to travel to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State. His case is still pending in federal court. A plea hearing has been set for Tuesday.

Arizona: Woman plotted with Muslim convert husband to blow up state prison

Source: Court docs: Woman arrested on terrorism charge was helping impri – azfamily.com 3TV | Phoenix

Investigators believe the Florence woman arrested on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism was helping her husband, a radicalized member of the Islamic faith who is serving a life prison for first-degree murder, with a plot to murder a warden.

FBI agents arrested Michelle Bastian, 49, Wednesday morning at her workplace, a bakery in Chandler called Urban Oven where she was a bookkeeper. They also served search warrants at her Florence home.

michelle-bastianAccording to court paperwork released Thursday, this investigation goes back to May when “a known source” reported to the Arizona Department of Corrections that Thomas Bastian, Michelle’s husband, was a believer in Islam and had become radicalized.

In September, the same source told the FBI that Thomas “was planning to create an explosive device in order to kill people, to include the prison warden.”

Court paperwork indicates that the same source said Michelle was helping Thomas, who has been in prison since March 31, 2009.

“Further information from the known source revealed that Thomas had a plan in action to create an explosive device to either kill the warden or to plant it in a vending machine located within the visitor section of the prison,” the officer who arrested Michelle wrote in his probable cause statement.

Michelle has been booked on Arizona state terrorism charges.

According to Michelle’s court paperwork, this was not the first time Thomas has threatened members of the law enforcement community, nor was it the first time he mentioned using a bomb.

The Scottsdale Police Department investigated him in 2009 for “threatening the lives of the law enforcement personnel who assisted in his murder conviction and threatened the use of explosives.”

Thomas, according to court paperwork, is housed in a maximum security unit ASPC-Lewis but was working on transferring back into the general population, which would give him access to the vending machines in the area where inmates meet their visitors.

The source, who was not identified, said the idea was for Michelle to give Thomas, who is 10 years her junior, everything he needed to carry out his plan when she visited him.

According to court paperwork, the source’s information was corroborated by evidence discovered during a search of Thomas’ cell, including a publication called “Inspire,” which is put out by al-Qaida, and another called “Dabiq,” which is distributed by ISIS. Continue reading

Arizona: Woman arrested in Chandler on suspicion of terrorism

Source: Officials: Woman arrested in Chandler on suspicion of terrorism

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office along with the Phoenix Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation served two search warrants on a Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism Case.

Law-enforcement agents on Wednesday took a Phoenix-area woman into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism, authorities said.

Agents from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Phoenix office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation served two search warrants Wednesday morning in Chandler and Florence, according to Mia Garcia, an Arizona Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman.

Michelle Bastian was arrested, Garcia said.

In Chandler, law-enforcement activity was evident Wednesday morning at Urban Oven, a locally owned bakery in the 2400 block of North Arizona Avenue.

Garcia said the investigation was continuing, and no further information was available.

This is the second prosecution of a state-level terrorism charge in Arizona.

In a deal made with prosecutors on Friday, Mahin Atif Khan pleaded guilty to terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and conspiracy to commit misconduct Involving weapons, court records show.

Unlike federal laws, Arizona statutes do not require an “overt act” to prove terrorism conspiracy, [Attorney General Mark] Brnovich said in a July interview.

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