Wife of Orlando shooter could face charges soon

Gunshot survivor Angel Santiago recounts his story at a news conference at Florida Hospital Orlando on the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando

By Letitia Stein and Julia Edwards

ORLANDO, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub could face criminal charges as early as Wednesday after a federal grand jury was convened to study possible wrongdoing by her, a law enforcement source said.

Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, knew of his plans for what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, said the law enforcement source, who has been briefed on the matter.

U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which received a briefing on the investigation into Sunday’s massacre, told CNN it appeared Salman had “some knowledge” of what was going on.

“She definitely is, I guess you would say, a person of interest right now and appears to be cooperating and can provide us with some important information,” King said.

Salman was with Mateen when he cased possible targets in the past two months, including the Disney World resort in April, a shopping complex called Disney Springs and the Pulse nightclub in early June, CNN and NBC reported.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was due to open a family assistance center at a stadium on Wednesday where those directly affected by the tragedy will be able to get information, support and other resources, city officials said.

Mateen, who was shot dead by police SWAT team members after a three-hour standoff, called 911 during his rampage to profess allegiance to various militant Islamist groups.

Federal investigators have said he was likely self-radicalized and there was no evidence he received any help or instructions from outside groups such as Islamic State. Mateen, 29, was a U.S. citizen, born in New York of Afghan immigrant parents and worked as a security guard.

“He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized,” President Barack Obama told reporters.

Salman’s mother, Ekbal Zahi Salman, lives in a middle-class neighborhood in Rodeo, California, about 25 miles (40 km) north of San Francisco. A neighbor said Noor Salman only visited her mother once after she married Mateen.

Noor Salman’s mother “didn’t like him very much. He didn’t allow her (Noor) to come here,” said neighbor Rajinder Chahal. He said he had spoken to Noor Salman’s mother after the Orlando attack and she “was crying, weeping.”


Mateen’s rampage at Pulse was systematic as he worked his way through the packed club shooting people who were already down, apparently to ensure they were killed, said Angel Colon, a wounded survivor.

“I look over and he shoots the girl next to me and I was just there laying down and thinking, ‘I’m next, I’m dead,'” he said.

Mateen shot him twice more, one bullet seemingly aimed for Colon’s head striking his hand, and another hitting his hip, Colon said at Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he is one of 27 survivors being treated.

Vigils continued on Tuesday in Orlando. Hundreds of students gathered to pray and sing in the evening at the University of Central Florida. They shone cellphone flashlights during a reading of the names of the dead including two alumni.

The shooting raised questions about how the United States should respond to violent extremists at home and abroad. The Federal Bureau of Investigation questioned Mateen in 2013 and 2014 for suspected ties to Islamist militants but was unable to verify that he posed a threat.

Obama slammed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, joining fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton in portraying Trump as unfit for the White House.

Trump criticized Obama for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe Islamist militants. Obama replied that using that label would not accomplish anything.


Mateen made 911 calls from the club in which he pledged loyalty to the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose organization controls parts of Iraq and Syria.

“We could hear him talking to 911 saying that the reason why he’s doing this is because he wants America to stop bombing his country,” said Patience Carter, 20, who was trapped in a bathroom stall at the nightclub as Mateen prowled outside.

U.S. officials were investigating media reports that Mateen may have been gay but not openly so, and questioning whether that could have driven his attack, according to two people who have been briefed on the investigation and requested anonymity to discuss it.

Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse nightclub, speaking through a representative, denied reports Mateen had been a regular patron.

“Untrue and totally ridiculous,” spokeswoman Sara Brady said in an email when asked about the claim.

A former wife of Mateen, Sitora Yusufiy, said her ex-husband had facets of his life that he did not share with his family, such as drinking and going to nightclubs.

“He did have a different side to him that he could not open up to his father about,” Yusufiy told CNN. “It doesn’t surprise me that he might be gay.”

She has previously said he was mentally unstable and beat her and that she fled their home after four months of marriage.

(Additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington, Barbara Liston, Bernie Woodall and Yara Bayoumy in Orlando, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Wis., Zachary Fagenson in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Alexandria Sage in Rodeo, Calif.; Writing by Alistair Bell and Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Dominic Evans and Bill Trott)

U.S. eyes ways to toughen fight against domestic extremists

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department is considering legal changes to combat what it sees as a rising threat from domestic anti-government extremists, senior officials told Reuters, even as it steps up efforts to stop Islamic State-inspired attacks at home.

Extremist groups motivated by a range of U.S.-born philosophies present a “clear and present danger,” John Carlin, the Justice Department’s chief of national security, told Reuters in an interview. “Based on recent reports and the cases we are seeing, it seems like we’re in a heightened environment.”

Over the past year, the Justice Department has brought charges against domestic extremist suspects accused of attempting to bomb U.S. military bases, kill police officers and fire bomb a school and other buildings in a predominantly Muslim town in New York state.

But federal prosecutors tackling domestic extremists still lack an important legal tool they have used extensively in dozens of prosecutions against Islamic State-inspired suspects: a law that prohibits supporting designated terrorist groups.

Carlin and other Justice Department officials declined to say if they would ask Congress for a comparable domestic extremist statute, or comment on what other changes they might pursue to toughen the fight against anti-government extremists.

The U.S. State Department designates international terrorist organizations to which it is illegal to provide “material support.” No domestic groups have that designation, helping to create a disparity in charges faced by international extremist suspects compared to domestic ones.

A Reuters analysis of more than 100 federal cases found that domestic terrorism suspects collectively have faced less severe charges than those accused of acting on behalf of Islamic State since prosecutors began targeting that group in early 2014.

Over the past two years, 27 defendants have been charged with plotting or inciting attacks within the United States in the name of Islamic State. They have faced charges that carried a median prison sentence of 53 years – half of the defendants faced more, and half faced less.

In the same period, 27 adherents of U.S.-based anti-government ideologies have been charged with similar activity. They faced charges that carried a median prison sentence of 20 years.

Carlin said his counter-terrorism team, including a recently hired counsel, is taking a “thoughtful look at the nature and scope of the domestic terrorism threat” and helping to analyze “potential legal improvements and enhancements to better combat those threats.”

The counsel, who was appointed last October and has not been named publicly, will identify cases being prosecuted at the state level that “could arguably meet the federal definition of domestic terrorism,” a Justice Department official said.

That would give the department a direct role in more domestic extremism cases.

Recognizing that domestic threats were “rapidly evolving, and had the potential to grow,” the department in March 2015 rated disrupting such terrorists as a key component of its broader counter-terrorism efforts, officials said.


The Justice Department aggressively pursued domestic extremists after Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

The government shifted its focus to international terrorism after al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

But in recent years anti-government activists, like those who occupied a wildlife preserve in eastern Oregon last month, have regained prominence.

As law enforcement experts confront domestic militia groups, “sovereign citizens” who do not recognize government authority, and other anti-government extremists, they also face a heightened threat from Islamic extremists like the couple who carried out the Dec. 2 shootings in San Bernardino, California.

“A new development we’re seeing is that when it comes to ISIL investigations, the flash-to-bang time from radicalization to action appears to be happening faster than with other types of terrorists,” said Michael Steinbach, the head of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

As a result, government agents are quick to investigate people who appear sympathetic toward Islamic State, current and former officials say. But some say the government has been overzealous in its pursuit of Islamic State suspects.

Similar actions by extremist suspects have yielded sharply disparate sentences.

Eight Islamic State-related defendants have been sentenced so far, to prison terms that range from three to 20 years, the Reuters review found. Over the same period, 18 domestic extremists have been sentenced to terms from one day to 12 years.

Prosecutors say Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, Florida, tried to buy a bomb last year from an undercover FBI agent as he plotted attacks on behalf of Islamic State. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison and has pleaded not guilty.

Michael Sibley, 67, left two unexploded pipe bombs and a Koran in a park in Roswell, Georgia in 2014 in what he later told police was an attempt to highlight the danger of Islamic terrorism. He pleaded guilty and faces a maximum of five years in prison.

“A different standard is being applied to Muslims than to other people,” said Daryl Johnson, a former counterterrorism expert at the Department of Homeland Security who now works as a law enforcement consultant.


Steinbach said that the FBI can never open up any type of investigation “just on the basis of race, creed, or religion,”

But he added that federal agents are “spring-loaded” to open investigations into Americans who support groups on the State Department list of designated terrorist organizations.

The maximum penalty for supporting one of these groups has been raised from 10 years to 20 years in prison since 2001.

It has been applied in 58 of the government’s 79 Islamic State cases since 2014 against defendants who engaged in a wide range of activity, from traveling to Syria to fight alongside Islamic State to raising money for a friend who wished to do so.

Judges usually issue sentences below the maximum, but some charges trigger sentencing “enhancements” that raise the baseline sentence a judge can issue – and the material support charge raises it more than most.

Domestic groups enjoy greater constitutional protections because being a member of those groups, no matter how extreme their rhetoric, is not a crime.

Prosecutors can bring “material support” terrorism charges against defendants who aren’t linked to groups on the State Department’s list, but they have only done so twice against non-jihadist suspects since the law was enacted in 1994. The law, which prohibits supporting people who have been deemed to be terrorists by their actions, carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Current and former federal prosecutors say they rarely consider that statute in domestic terrorism cases because it is often hard to convince a jury that someone who is not affiliated with a foreign group can be guilty of terrorism.

William Wilmoth, a former federal prosecutor who invoked that law in a 1996 case against a West Virginia militia member, said he was surprised to hear that it isn’t used more often.

“These guys have every right to have off-center political views,” he said. “But when they made affirmative steps to blow up an actual federal facility… we thought it was an important place for us to go and prosecute.”

(Reporting by Julia Harte, Julia Edwards and Andy Sullivan; editing by Stuart Grudgings)

Man who allegedly gave hacked personal info to Islamic State appears in court

A man accused of hacking the personal information of more than 1,300 federal employees and military members and releasing them to the Islamic State made his first appearance in a United States court on Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Ardit Ferizi, a 20-year-old Kosovo citizen, faces charges related to terrorism, hacking and identity theft, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Ferizi was living in Malaysia last October when local law enforcement detained him at the United States’ request, prosecutors said. He later waived extradition.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Ferizi is believed to be the leader of a Kosovar hacking group. He’s accused of hacking a United States-based online retailer’s server, stealing the personal information of about 100,000 people and then sending the data of 1,351 military personnel and federal employees to members of the Islamic State.

A pro-Islamic State Twitter account posted a link to the information in August, prosecutors allege, and “names, e-mail addresses, e-mail passwords, locations and phone numbers” of the 1,351 employees were visible in a 30-page document that included a warning message.

According to the complaint, part of the document stated: “we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!”

Court records indicate charges against Ferizi include providing material support to the Islamic State, unauthorized access to a computer and aggravated identity theft.

If convicted, prosecutors said he could face up to 35 years in prison.

“As alleged, Ardit Ferizi is a terrorist hacker who provided material support to ISIL by stealing the personally identifiable information of U.S. service members and federal employees and providing it to ISIL for use against those employees,” Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said in a statement released after Ferizi was arrested in October. “This case is a first of its kind and, with these charges, we seek to hold Ferizi accountable for his theft of this information and his role in ISIL’s targeting of U.S. government employees.”

Ferizi is the latest individual who has been charged with Islamic State-related crimes in the United States. In December, a report from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism said at least 71 individuals were accused of such offenses since March 2014.

Milwaukee man arrested for machine gun possession allegedly planned mass shooting

Authorities foiled a 23-year-old Milwaukee man’s alleged plans to commit a deadly mass shooting at a Masonic temple in the city, prosecutors announced Tuesday afternoon.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a news release.

Prosecutors said that law enforcement had been investigating Hamzeh since September, and that he had been communicating with two confidential sources since October.

Prosecutors allege Hamzeh toured the temple with those sources on January 19, and later discussed plans to use machine guns and silencers to kill dozens of people there. Hamzeh allegedly told the sources the event “will be known all over the world” and jihadists “will be proud of us.”

Prosecutors allege Hamzeh had been planning to travel to Jordan and attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank, but ditched those plans and shifted his focus to the United States.

He was arrested after allegedly purchasing two automatic weapons and a silencer from undercover FBI agents on Monday, according to the news release.

In a statement, Robert J. Shields, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee office, said the arrest thwarted “an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life.”

An FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was involved in the investigation.

The news release includes several comments that Hamzeh allegedly told the sources during their recorded conversations, in which he explained his goals and strategies for the attack.

He allegedly said that one of the three of them needed to guard the temple’s main door and “spray anyone he finds” while others went upstairs to “spray everyone” in a meeting.

“We will shoot them, kill them and get out,” he allegedly said, according to the release. “We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we’ll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal. But one has to stand on the door, because if no one stood at the door, people will be going in and out, if people came in from outside and found out what is going on, everything is busted.”

Hamzeh also allegedly told the sources that “we will eliminate everyone,” prosecutors said.

“Thirty is excellent,” Hamzeh allegedly commented to the sources. “If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. … 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”

Maryland man indicted for alleged support of al Shabaab

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Maryland man has been indicted on accusations of supporting the Somalia-based Islamic militant group al Shabaab and appearing in videos for the group, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday.

Maalik Alim Jones, 31, “was charged with providing material support to al Shabaab and receiving training from the terrorist organization,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said in a statement released by the department.

Prosecutors said the suspect traveled to Somalia, received military training from al Shabaab, and took up arms as a terrorist fighter with an organization that has declared the United States a target.

“Having allegedly sworn allegiance to al Shabaab, a terrorist organization bent on destroying America, Maalik Jones will now face American justice in a Manhattan federal court,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

A lawyer for Jones was not listed in online court documents.

Jones has appeared with other al Shabaab fighters in at least two videos that were recovered from an al Shabaab fighter, prosecutors said.

In one, he possessed a firearm, and is seen with several al Shabaab fighters who participated in a June 2015 attack on a Kenyan Defense Force base where two Kenyan soldiers were killed, they said in a statement.

The case comes just days after two men from the Middle East who came to the United States as refugees were arrested on federal terrorism charges in California and Texas last week for supporting Islamic militant groups.

There have been more than 75 publicized arrests of U.S. residents who have allegedly become radicalized by Muslim militants since 2014.

(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Eric Beech, Bernard Orr)

Philadelphia police keep watch on neighborhood where officer was shot

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Police were out in large numbers on Monday in the Philadelphia neighborhood where a man inspired by Islamic State militants last week shot a police officer, with officials investigating a tip that the gunman may have been part of a larger group.

Police said on Sunday that a man stopped officers patrolling near the site of the attack and warned that suspected gunman Edward Archer, 30, had been part of a group of four men who may pose a danger to police. But a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, on Monday cautioned that it was not clear how credible that threat was.

Archer, who friends said worked in construction and went by the Muslim name Abdul Shaheed, lived in Yeadon, a suburban town just over the Philadelphia border. He appeared to maintain roots in West Philadelphia, and stayed at times in a vacant home owned by a relative, near the mosque where he worshipped and just two blocks from the scene of an attack that police have called an ambush.

In an attack caught on video, a gunman police say was Archer was seen shooting into a patrol car driven by Officer Jesse Hartnett, 33, who was shot in the arm but managed to fire back. Archer, who sustained a bullet wound to the buttocks, was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted murder.

Archer, police say, told them that the attack was done “in the name of Islam.”

On Monday morning multiple police cruisers, including one SWAT unit and two units assigned to the department’s counter-terrorism unit, could be seen in the neighborhood.

Jacob Bender, the director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council for American Islamic relations said that local leaders, wary of the increased scrutiny that acts of violence brings on the community, are quick to report threats of violence.

“People running around shooting police cars is the last thing the community wants,” Bender said.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)

Gunman citing Islamic State ambushes Philadelphia policeman

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A gunman claiming to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants shot and seriously wounded a Philadelphia police officer in an ambush on his patrol car, the city’s police commissioner said on Friday.

Edward Archer of Philadelphia approached Officer Jesse Hartnett, 33, shortly before midnight and fired 11 rounds, three of which hit the officer in his arm, authorities said. Police released still images from surveillance video that showed the gunman dressed in a long white robe walking toward the car and firing, eventually getting close enough to shoot directly through the window.

Hartnett chased Archer, who was arrested by responding officers and later confessed to the attack, saying he had carried it out “in the name of Islam,” police officials told reporters.

“He has confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam,” Ross told a press conference, adding that the 30-year-old assailant also referenced Islamic State militants.

Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark added, “He said he pledges his allegiance to Islamic State, he follows Allah and that was the reason he was called on to do this.”

A top U.S. Muslim advocacy group said it had found no evidence that Archer was an observant Muslim.

U.S. officials have been on high security alert following a series of Islamic State-linked attacks at home and abroad over the last few months.

In November, gunman and suicide bombers affiliated with Islamic State killed 130 people in a series of attacks in Paris. Last month a married couple fatally shot 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in an attack inspired by Islamic State.

Those concerns have led to calls by some Republican governors and presidential hopefuls to restrict the admission of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s long civil war.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat sworn in on Monday, told reporters he did not believe Archer’s actions reflected Islamic thinking.

“In no way shape or form does anyone in this room believe that what was done represents Islam,” Kenney said. “This was done by a criminal with a stolen gun.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the leading U.S. Muslim advocacy group, on Friday said Archer “does not appear” to be an observant Muslim.

At the Masjid Mujahideen mosque, which stands around the block from the home where Archer was believed to have lived, Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid said he did not know Archer and was not aware if he had ever prayed at the mosque.

“When it’s time to pray, you get to wherever is closest,” Abdur-Rashid said, adding, “There’s no conflict between us and anyone in the world.”

A woman who lived on the same block as Archer’s mother but declined to give her name said police had responded to the house on occasion but described the suspect as “pleasant.”

Neighbor Natalie King, 68, a retired public worker, said she had seen the man she knew as “Eddie” going to the mosque every Friday.

“He’s a nice boy. I am shocked,” she said.


There was no evidence as yet that the shooter had worked with anyone else, Ross said.

“He was savvy enough to stop just short of implicating himself in a conspiracy,” Ross said. “He doesn’t appear to be a stupid individual, just an extremely violent one.”

About a dozen FBI agents and city detectives could be seen on Friday afternoon searching a two-story row house in a working class West Philadelphia neighborhood where Archer was believed to have stayed at times and a second home just outside the city where his mother lives.

The house where Archer was believed to have stayed was about two blocks away from the intersection where Hartnett was shot.

Archer has a criminal history. Court records show he pleaded guilty in 2014 to assault and carrying an unlicensed gun, charges that got him a prison sentence of between nine and 23 months.

Archer’s mother told the Philadelphia Inquirer that her son, the oldest of seven children, had suffered head injuries from football and a moped accident.

“He’s been acting kind of strange lately. He’s been talking to himself,” and hearing voices, the newspaper quoted Valerie Holliday as saying. “We asked him to get medical help.”

Hartnett was taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital and will require several surgeries for three gunshot wounds in his arm.

Archer used a 9 mm handgun that had been stolen from a Philadelphia police officer’s home several years ago, but not by him, Ross said.

In New York City, where two police officers were shot dead in their patrol car in a December 2014 attack by a man angry over police killings of unarmed black men, the police department issued a memorandum urging officers to “exercise heightened vigilance and implement proactive measures” in light of the Philadelphia shooting.

“Those who carry out attacks in the name of ISIS or any other terrorist organization must be fully prosecuted,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, using a common acronym for Islamic State. “We have to take every appropriate step to safeguard our communities and ensure safety.”

(Additional reporting by Jason Szep and Andy Sullivan in Washington and Laila Kearney in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott and Tom Brown)

Men who entered U.S. as refugees face terrorism charges

A pair of men who entered the United States as refugees several years ago are now facing federal charges spurring from alleged ties to terrorism, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The men, both Palestinians born in Iraq, were arrested in Texas and California. The Department of Justice announced the arrests separately and gave no indication the cases were connected.

Both cases involve men accused about lying about their alleged connections to terrorist organizations, either in talks with immigration officials or on official immigration forms.

Both men were scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

The first case involves a 24-year-old who had been living in Houston.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee in late 2009. He became a legal permanent resident in 2011, and court filings show he allegedly sought to become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2014.

Prosecutors are accusing Al Hardan of providing material support to the Islamic State and lying about his alleged involvement with the organization on that naturalization application.

“He allegedly represented that he was not associated with a terrorist organization when, in fact, he associated with members and sympathizers of ISIL throughout 2014,” the Department of Justice said in a news release, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Al Hardan is also accused of receiving automatic machine gun training and not disclosing that on his application and in a subsequent interview with immigration officials, according to court records.

The other case involves a 23-year-old who was living in Sacramento.

Prosecutors allege Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab entered the United States as an Iraqi refugee in October 2012 and subsequently used social media to discuss his plans to travel to Syria and fight alongside terrorists. He allegedly traveled to Syria by way of Turkey in November 2013, and prosecutors claim he posted about fighting there before returning to the United States in January 2014.

According to court filings, immigration officials interviewed Al-Jayab in October 2014 and claimed he told them he was visiting his grandmother in Turkey. He also allegedly lied about his actions in Syria, and prosecutors charged him with making false statements about international terrorism.

“While he represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in a statement.

The arrests came on the same day the Justice Department announced an Uzbek national living in Idaho received a 25-year-prison sentence and a $250,000 fine for terrorism charges.

Prosecutors had alleged that 33-year-old Fazliddin Kurbanov had purchased bomb-making components and was storing them at his apartment in Boise. Prosecutors had accused him of speaking to people connected with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and mentioning military bases as possible targets for a terrorist attack on American soil.

“The worst of intentions on the part of Mr. Kurbanov, that is the mass killing of Americans, were thwarted by the best of collaboration on the part of the entire law enforcement community,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart said in a statement announcing the conviction.

The Justice Department said Kurbanov will face deportation proceedings once released from prison.

FBI Thwarts ISIS-Inspired Terror Attack in Upstate New York

Authorities foiled a New Year’s Eve terror plot by arresting a man who allegedly planned to commit an attack in upstate New York on behalf of the Islamic State, federal prosecutors said.

The Department of Justice alleges Emanuel L. Lutchman, a 25-year-old from Rochester, was planning an “armed attack” at a restaurant and bar in the city tonight, according to a news release. Prosecutors said Lutchman claimed the attack was ordered by a member of the Islamic State overseas, and the attack was to be “on behalf of (ISIS) and in furtherance of his plan to join” the group.

“The FBI thwarted Emanuel Lutchman’s intent to kill civilians on New Year’s Eve,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Cohen said in a statement.  “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.”

The formal charge against Lutchman is attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, according to the news release, and he faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

The arrest comes in the wake of the of revisions to the National Terrorism Advisory System, which the Department of Homeland Security uses to warn Americans about terrorist threats.

The changes, implemented about two weeks after the San Bernardino mass shootings, give Homeland Security officials the ability to issue bulletins about the general risk of terrorist attacks, according to a news release from the department. Under the previous system, officials could only issue alerts if there were credible or imminent threats against the United States, the department said, and the circumstances never once warranted issuing an alert.

The current bulletin, issued Dec. 16 and still in effect, says the department has concerns about attacks from “self-radicalized actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice,” especially because foreign terrorist groups are using the Internet to spread their messages globally.