Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Last Tuesday, the FBI arrested a 26 year-old man just outside Washington, DC in Sterling, Virginia. According to the Justice Department’s press release, Bailor Jalloh was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIL by assisting in the procurement of weapons to be used in an attack on U.S. soil, as well as sending funds to the terrorist group. The government alleges that Jalloh was both a member of the Army National Guard and a fan of Anwar Aulaqi—much like Nicholas Teausant, a Californian arrested on material support charges in 2014.
Much of Jalloh’s story, according to the complaint, is fairly predictable—Jalloh discussed his radical aspirations with ISIL members and sympathizers online and met regularly with an FBI source. However, while a handful of men have charged with material support in the past month—Akram Musleh and Sajmir Alimehmeti led the way—his story is unique in the fact that he was actively plotting an attack within the United States. While Teausant and Musleh discussed targets in California, Indiana, and Florida with FBI sources, both men eventually decided their talents would be better utilized overseas in ISIL territory. Even Alimehmeti helped purchase gear for another individual who was travelling, and the Minnesotans spent years trying to leave the country.
Jalloh, on the other hand, took active steps to assist a potential mass-shooting scenario in the United States, going so far as to purchase an assault rifle in support of the attack. Unlike many of his peers whose interactions with ISIL members were limited to chatting online or via encrypted apps on their cell phones, Jalloh had met face to face with ISIL members and then returned to the United States. A naturalized citizen, Jalloh travelled to Africa in 2015—first home to Sierra Leone, and then to Nigeria where he met with ISIL members and networked his way into an online introduction to a now-deceased and unnamed ISIL member who was actively plotting an attack within the United States. Unlike Bilal Abood who traveled to Syria and returned to the United States, but did not engage in any attack planning, Jalloh immediately put his new connections to good use.
Oddly enough, it would be the ISIL member who would introduce Jalloh to the FBI in April 2016 when he solicited help from both Jalloh and an FBI source. Both men agreed to help him conduct an attack in the United States and began meeting face to face that month. During their meetings, Jalloh disclosed to the source that he had previously travelled to Nigeria and had saved up enough money to join ISIL in Libya—similar to Musleh who, until he ended up in federal prison, was certain it would be easier to enter Libya than Syria without alerting law enforcement.
But the conversation steered back towards a U.S.-based attack. After Jalloh told the source that he was close to doing “Nidal Hassan type of things” the FBI discovered he had purchased a handgun several months earlier. Later, he bragged to the source that he could get his hands on AR-15s and AK-47s and got in touch with an associate who helped him purchase an assault rifle on July 2nd. The next day, the FBI arrested Jalloh.
While Jalloh faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted, an inmate already charged with material support just made sure he won’t be leaving the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio anytime soon. Yahya Farooq Mohammad was indicted last year on charges of conspiring to provide thousands of dollars to Anwar Aulaqi in an effort to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq. That case, which is still pending in Ohio, was assigned to U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. According to the most recent three-count indictment, Mohammed paid a $1,000 advance to an undercover FBI agent to have Judge Zouhary kidnapped and murdered. The three counts carry a combine maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.