Two U.S. men charged with Conspiring to Support a Foreign Terrorist Group
Two men, one in Texas and the other in New York, were charged Friday with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Michael Kyle Sewell, 18, of Arlington, Texas, and Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, of Manhattan, were charged Friday by criminal complaint in Fort Worth, Texas, and Manhattan, New York, with conspiring to provide material support and resources to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani-based foreign terrorist organization responsible for the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Both men have been detained pending further court proceedings.
“Sewell allegedly used social media to recruit and encourage an individual [Encarnacion] to travel overseas to join a foreign terrorist organization and conspired with that person to provide material support to that organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.
Encarnacion, a.k.a. “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was arrested Thursday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) in Queens, New York.
“Encarnacion allegedly attempted to travel to Pakistan to join a foreign terrorist organization and conspired with another individual to provide that organization with material support,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.
“As alleged, not only did Mr. Encarnacion express a desire to execute and behead people, he scheduled travel and almost boarded a plane so he could go learn how to become a terrorist,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney Jr. “These organizations are using the internet and social media to appeal to the most barbaric impulses in people, and train them to kill. The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to do all it can to stop these alleged criminals before innocent people are killed.”
Excerpt from Criminal Complaint against Encarnacion, filed Friday in Manhattan federal court:
In Nov. 2018, Encarnacion expressed his desire to join a terrorist group in an online group chat, where he met another individual (CC-1). CC-1 introduced Encarnacion to an individual who, unbeknownst to CC-1 or Encarnacion, was in fact an undercover FBI employee (UC-1). Encarnacion repeatedly expressed, in the course of recorded communications through a social media service with CC-1 and through an encrypted messaging service with UC-1, his allegiance to and support for LeT, which, since approximately 2001, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Secretary of State.
Over the past several months, Encarnacion has discussed his desire and plans to join LeT overseas so that he could receive training and participate in violent acts of terrorism. For example, Encarnacion told UC-1 that he was “ready to kill and die in the name of Allah” and sought UC-1’s assistance to help Encarnacion travel to abroad to serve as an “executioner” for LeT, stating, “I want to execute. I want to behead. Shoot.” Encarnacion further stated that he aspired to commit terrorist attacks (“a bombing and shooting”) in the United States, but lacked “guidance” and “guns” to do so.
During the months that followed, Encarnacion and UC-1 agreed on a plan that Encarnacion believed would allow him to join LeT in Pakistan. Encarnacion told UC-1 that he had made arrangements to travel to a particular city in Europe (the “European City”), as the first step of traveling to Pakistan to join LeT. Encarnacion purchased an airline ticket for a flight scheduled to depart on Feb. 7, 2019, from JFK Airport, to the European City. On Feb. 7, Encarnacion traveled to JFK Airport, where he was arrested by the FBI after he attempted to board that flight.
Encarnacion, 29, of Manhattan, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Excerpt from Criminal Complaint against Sewell, filed Friday in Fort Worth federal court:
Sewell recruited an individual, identified in the complaint as coconspirator 1, to join LeT, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Sewell met the coconspirator online and encouraged him to join LeT.
Sewell provided the coconspirator with contact information for an individual who he believed could facilitate the coconspirator’s travel to join the organization. Unbeknownst to Sewell and the coconspirator, the facilitator was an undercover FBI agent.
Sewell coached the coconspirator about what to say to convince the facilitator that he was sincere in his desire to fight for LeT. Sewell also contacted the facilitator to vouch for the coconspirator’s authenticity. Sewell told both the coconspirator and the facilitator that he would kill the coconspirator if he turned out to be a spy.
The coconspirator made contact with the facilitator and made arrangements with the facilitator to travel to Pakistan to join LeT.