The FBI have prevented yet another planned attack by ISIL; this time it was to happen at a N.Y. restaurant during New Year’s celebrations. A Rochester man was arraigned in federal court in Rochester on Thursday, December 31, the day after his arrest.
In an announcement made by the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Emanuel L. Lutchman, 25, was arrested and charged by a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin, said:
“According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year’s Eve in the name of the terrorist organization.”
“Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene, and thwart Lutchman’s deadly plans.”
In an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Timothy Klapec, which accompanied the criminal complaint it stated:
“In late December, Lutchman told an FBI informant he had been in contact with an overseas ISIL operative, who claimed to be in Syria. Lutchman told the operative he wanted to join ISIL in Syria, but the operative said that the Syrian borders were now closed, but should open in a few months.
“He asked Lutchman if he had anyone who could vouch for him, if not he would have to prove himself as a member of ISIL. Lutchman told the operative that he had been thinking a lot about “starting to organize brothers that he knew to do operation for the sake of Allah.”
“The ISIL operative asked him, what was holding him back from carrying something out. Lutchman replied that he did not want to go back to prison. The operative said that all he had to do to prove his loyalty was carry out an attack on New Year’s or whenever he was able to, and “kill 1,000,000’s of kuffar.” (Kuffar is a highly derogatory term in Arabic that means non-believer or infidel).
“Lutchman provided the FBI informant with screen shots of the conversation he had with the ISIL operative, in which Lutchman described his hatred of everything in the United States, and his intention to make “hijra” or migrate from the United States.
“On the morning of December 28, Lutchman met with another FBI informant, and talked about assassinating people with pressure cooker bombs. The informant asked if they could use knives if nothing else was available.
“The same informant met with Lutchman again that evening, where during the meeting Lutchman allegedly told the informant he wanted to plant a bomb inside a bar or restaurant, and perhaps also kidnap and kill a couple of people. During the course of the meeting, they drove past a restaurant in Rochester, were Lutchman identified it as a potential target.
“Lutchman told the informant that he did not have any money to prepare for an attack, but that: “I will take a life, I don’t have a problem with that.” Lutchman said they would use knives during the operation.
“The evening of December 29, Lutchman and the first informant met again, where they went to a Walmart store to buy supplies for the operation. They purchased two black ski masks, zip-ties, two knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia, and latex gloves. Because Lutchman did not have any money, the informant paid for the supplies.
“The ISIL operative had suggested that Lutchman write something down before carrying out an attack to announce his allegiance to ISIL and help fellow Muslims.
“It was just after the FBI informant had recorded a video of Lutchman swearing allegiance to ISIS, and claiming responsibility for an attack they were planning to carry out the next evening in Rochester, when Members of the FBI’s Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Lutchman,” Klapec wrote.
U.S. Attorney Hochul said:
“This New Year’s Eve prosecution underscores the threat of ISIL even in upstate New York, but demonstrates our determination to immediately stop any who would cause harm in its name.
“What began as an ISIL directive to harm the community ended with the arrest of this defendant, and a message for any other individuals considering similar behavior — you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will be punished.
“While law enforcement is well equipped for such investigations, the public is reminded to remain vigilant, and report any suspicious activity. I assure members of the public that the excellent work of our law enforcement partners with the cooperation of the public is the best way to ensure the safety of our community.”
Special Agent in charge, Cohen, said:
“The FBI thwarted Emanuel Lutchman’s intent to kill civilians on New Year’s Eve, the FBI remains concerned about people overseas who use the Internet to inspire people in the United States to commit acts of violence where they live.”
According to the Department of Justice, the case is being investigated by the FBI’s Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey with the assistance of Trial Attorney Lawrence Schneider of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Lutchman is a self-professed Muslim covert, and has a criminal record. In 2006, he was convicted of robbery and served five years in prison. He has also had mental health-related arrests, and spent several months in a local prison this year for petit larceny and menacing, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
The defendant made an initial appearance on December 31 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson of the U.S. Western District of New York. The department also reminds us that being charged with a crime is purely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Research by Sarah Matheson