Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen from Houston, has been charged with unlawfully distributing explosive making information and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office made the announcement.
Authorities arrested Damlarkaya late Friday, Dec. 8, upon the filing of a sealed criminal complaint. It was unsealed this morning as he made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo, at which time he was temporarily ordered into custody pending a detention hearing set for Dec. 14.
According to the charges, beginning in or about early August 2017, Damlarkaya engaged in online communications with undercover FBI agents and other sources. During those conversations, he allegedly shared his intentions to travel overseas to fight for ISIS or, if unable, to commit an attack in the United States. The charges also indicate Damlarkaya asked if he could provide a farewell video to be published should he follow through with an attack resulting in his death in order to inspire others. Damlarkaya further provided instructions on how to build an AK-47 or AR-15 assault rifle from readily available parts in order to avoid detection from authorities, according to the criminal complaint.
Additionally, Damlarkaya provided a formula to alleged ISIS supporters for the explosive, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), and instructions on how to use TATP in a pressure cooker device that contained shrapnel, according to the allegations. He also discussed the use of a machete or Samurai sword as an alternative to a gun or explosive. The criminal complaint further indicates he claimed to carry a knife in the event he was stopped by law enforcement and that he slept with a machete under his pillow in case his house was ever raided.
In early November 2017, according the court documents, Damlarkaya explained “if I buy a gun or supplies for a bomb, they [presumably law enforcement] will heat up pressure [j]ust like a few months ago when I was trying an operation but they found out.” The criminal complaint further alleges that Damlarkaya claims to have attempted to get to Syria on two other occasions, but failed.
If convicted of unlawfully distributing explosives information or attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Damlarkaya faces a possible 20-year-maximum term of imprisonment. A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alamdar Hamdani and Rob Jones of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorneys Gregory Gonzalez and Kevin Nunnally of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.