Md. man ac­cused of plot­ting for ISIS

Pros­e­cu­tors say 24-year-old planned to at­tack mem­ber of U.S. mil­i­tary in P.G. Co.

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­tor@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/rec­tor­sun

A 24-year-old Mary­land man has been charged in a plot to at­tack a mem­ber of the U.S. mil­i­tary on be­half of the self-pro­claimed Is­lamic State, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said Mon­day.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Ne­lash Mo­hamed Das, a cit­i­zen of Bangladesh who came to the United States as a child two decades ago and lived in Hy­attsville, spent months in late 2015 and early this year ex­press­ing his sup­port for ISIS on so­cial me­dia.

Even­tu­ally, pros­e­cu­tors said, Das met with a con­fi­den­tial FBI source whom he be­lieved was a fel­low ISIS sympathizer.

The two plotted an at­tack on a service mem­ber in Prince George’s County, for which Das be­lieved an ISIS con­tact in Iraq would pay them $80,000, pros­e­cu­tors said.

In re­cent days, pros­e­cu­tors said, Das and the FBI source pur­chased am­mu­ni­tion, and on Fri­day they packed up guns and drove to­gether to the home of the mil­i­tary mem­ber, where Das be­lieved they would con­duct the at­tack.

In­stead, Das was ar­rested by FBI agents, pros­e­cu­tors said.

“Our goal is to catch dan­ger­ous suspects be­fore they strike, while re­spect­ing con­sti­tu­tional rights,” U.S. At­tor­ney Rod J. Rosen­stein said in a state­ment. “That is what the Amer­i­can peo­ple ex­pect of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, and that is what we aim to de­liver.”

Das was charged with at­tempt­ing to pro­vide ma­te­rial sup­port and re­sources to a for­eign ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion. If con­victed, he could be sen­tenced to up to 20 years in prison.

“Ne­lash Mo­hamed Das is al­leged to have plotted to kill a U.S. service mem­ber on be­half of ISIL,” said John Car­lin, the assistant at­tor­ney gen­eral for na­tional se­cu­rity, us­ing an al­ter­nate acro­nym for the Is­lamic State. “In­di­vid­u­als in­tent on car­ry­ing out vi­o­lence in the name of for­eign ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions pose one of the most con­cern­ing threats that law en­force­ment faces to­day.”

U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Ti­mothy J. Sullivan or­dered Das de­tained pend­ing a de­ten­tion hear­ing Thurs­day. Das did not have an at­tor­ney listed in on­line court records avail­able Mon­day.

Das came to the United States in 1995 and is a legal per­ma­nent res­i­dent, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Das used so­cial me­dia last year to ex­press his sup­port for ISIS, pros­e­cu­tors said, “in­clud­ing sup­port for ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia.”

Das tweeted the name and home­town of the service mem­ber, pros­e­cu­tors said, and said the service mem­ber “as­pires to kill Mus­lims.”

Pros­e­cu­tors did not re­lease the name of the service mem­ber.

Das tweeted a pic­ture of an AK-47 assault ri­fle, pros­e­cu­tors said, and wrote, “This is more than just a gun. This is a ticket to Jan­nah” — a ref­er­ence, pros­e­cu­tors said, to “the Is­lamic con­cept of par­adise.”

On Twit­ter, Das also ex­pressed envy of peo­ple “slay­ing kuf­far” — killing nonbeliev­ers — and dy­ing as re­li­gious mar­tyrs, pros­e­cu­tors said.

In April 2015, pros­e­cu­tors said, Das be­gan prac­tic­ing fir­ing weapons at a range in Prince George’s County and sub­mit­ted his fin­ger­prints to ob­tain a hand­gun per­mit.

The FBI’s con­fi­den­tial source first met with Das in May, pros­e­cu­tors said. Over the next sev­eral months, they said, Das told the source that he knew and com­mu­ni­cated with mem­bers of ISIS over­seas, that he wanted to kill a service mem­ber in Prince George’s County, that he could ac­quire weapons, that he wanted to travel over­seas for ISIS, and that he was look­ing for ad­di­tional tar­gets to kill.

Dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween the pair on Sept. 11, pros­e­cu­tors said, “Das con­firmed that he was com­mit­ted ‘100 per­cent.’ ”

“That’s like my goal in life,” he told the source, pros­e­cu­tors said. And on Fri­day, pros­e­cu­tors said, he sent the source a text: “I’m ready”

Be­fore driv­ing to the home of the in­tended tar­get, pros­e­cu­tors said, Das loaded am­mu­ni­tion into the mag­a­zine of one of two firearms that the FBI source had pro­vided. The guns were not func­tional, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Out­side the tar­get’s home, pros­e­cu­tors said, Das ap­proached the trunk where the weapons were lo­cated, and FBI agents ap­proached to ar­rest him. He ran, they said, but was quickly taken into cus­tody.

Das is the sec­ond man in Mary­land charged by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors with pro­vid­ing ma­te­rial sup­port to ISIS.

Mo­hamed El­shi­nawy, 30, of Edge­wood is ac­cused of re­ceiv­ing thou­sands of dol­lars from over­seas that he be­lieved was to fund a ter­ror at­tack on Amer­i­can soil. He has pleaded not guilty. If con­victed, El­shi­nawy also faces decades in prison.

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