Prosecuting Terrorism

The United States has always had its fair share of domestic terrorism – homegrown radicalists who want to overthrow the government or fight for something they believe in at the expense of innocent lives. It has only been in recent years that the country has had to deal with foreign terror. As a result, the law has had to play catch-up in formulating laws and punishment, including what rights, if any, foreign terrorists are entitled to.

The city of New York has recently started the path for prosecuting one man in an attempt to halt the radicalization of others. Radical cleric Shaikh Faisal has been indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on charges of recruiting supports and facilitating efforts for his followers to join the Islamic State (ISIS). The official charge is Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism in the First Degree as a Crime of Terrorism and other charges. He was arrested in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Manhattan D.A.’s office has formed a specific counterterrorism program designed to investigate leads that are known to relate to homegrown terror plots, extremism, and terror-financing. It was through their investigation that Shaikh Faisal was arrested and subsequently indicted. The D.A. has reported that he has used the internet, with websites, videos and lectures, inciting people worldwide to take up armed jihad. His teachings have been cited by several convicted terrorists in both New York and London, and actively encouraged individuals to commit acts of terror.

Faisal was caught when he and an undercover NYPD officer began communicating online in December 2016 while Faisal was actually based in Jamaica. He had previously been convicted in the U.K. concerning crimes related to inciting murder and using racial rhetoric. In the conversations between Faisal and the undercover officer, he wanted the officer to watch his lectures, and started sending him propaganda from the ISIS news outlet. Finally, he offered to send the undercover officer to the Middle East and support ISIS fighters abroad. He suggested the officer marry someone within ISIS to make his travel easier and offered to make the arrangement. The officer actually traveled to the Middle East, and gathered more evidence and information to enable the successful indictment of Faisal.

This is one in the latest prosecutions and efforts of the D.A’s office to deter terrorist activity in New York. Jose Pimentel was convicted and sentenced for creating bombs to explode in Manhattan. Pimentel was a fan of Faisal’s, saying he was one of his biggest inspirations. Another man, 22-year old Parveg Ahmed, a resident of Queens, was recently charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. When his personal computer was searched by law enforcement, a recording of one of Faisal’s lectures was found.

The fact that Faisal lived in the Caribbean has strengthened officials’ suspicions that there is a link between Caribbean countries and ISIS in the Middle East. The D.A.’s office now has 60 days to present credible evidence for his extradition from Jamaica into the United States, so that he can be fully prosecuted, and hopefully, pumped for more information concerning his network of terror cells and followers. Regardless, Faisal’s network and power has been weakened – for now.

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