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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 14, 2021

An Ohio man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and attempting to commit a hate crime, for planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo, Ohio area.

Damon M. Joseph, aka Abdullah Ali Yusuf, 23, of Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty in May 2021. According to court documents, in 2018, Joseph drew the attention of law enforcement by posting photographs of weapons and various messages in support of ISIS on his social media accounts, as well as a photograph originally distributed by the media wing of ISIS.

“Inspired by ISIS, Damon Joseph planned to conduct a deadly terrorist attack at a synagogue in Ohio.  He hoped to cause mass casualties by selecting a time when numerous innocent victims would be present.  For this conduct, he will now spend 20 years in prison,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. "We are committed to identifying, disrupting, and holding accountable individuals who seek to engage in such attacks.  I commend the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who identified the threat posed by this defendant and took action to protect the public from his plans.”

Read more: Department of Justice

Nigerian troops have seized 14 tonnes of fertiliser that the insurgent Islamist group Boko Haram had planned to turn into roadside bombs, the army said on Thursday.

Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in bombings during its 12-year war against the armed forces in northeast Nigeria, a conflict that has spilled over into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon and caused an estimated 350,000 deaths.

The army said it had broken up a urea fertiliser syndicate that supplied the insurgents with materials to make IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.

Troops seized 281 bags of urea, each weighing 50kg, at two locations in northeastern Borno and Yobe states, military spokesman Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement.

Read more: Reuters

The leader of an Illinois anti-government militia group who authorities say masterminded the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque was sentenced Monday to 53 years in prison for an attack that terrified the mosque's community.

Emily Claire Hari, who was previously known as Michael Hari and recently said she is transgender, faced a mandatory minimum of 30 years for the attack on Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Defense attorneys asked for the minimum, but prosecutors sought life, saying Hari hasn’t taken responsibility for the attack.

No one was hurt in the bombing, but more than a dozen members of the mosque community gave victim impact statements Monday about the trauma it left behind. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank said evidence clearly showed Hari's intent was to “scare, intimidate and terrorize individuals of Muslim faith."

Read more: ABC News

U.S. Capitol police arrested a man who was carrying banned weapons — including a bayonet and a machete — in a truck scrawled with White supremacist symbols that was outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, the department said Monday.

The driver, 44-year-old Donald Craighead of Oceanside, California, claimed to the cops that he was “on patrol” and started talking about “white supremacist ideology,” the U.S. Capitol Police said.

The arrest was made Monday morning, less than a week before people were set to gather at the Capitol for a rally in support of the hundreds jailed in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

“At this time, it is not clear if he was planning to attend any upcoming demonstrations or if he has ties to any previous cases in the area,” the department said.

Read more: CNBC

A 28-year-old Bellingham, Washington woman was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of violence against a railroad carrier, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Ellen Brennan Reiche, was one of two people arrested on the BNSF Railway tracks near Bellingham, near midnight on November 28, 2020.  Reiche was convicted of placing a ‘shunt’ – a device that interferes with train signals – on the tracks.  The jury deliberated about three hours following the two-day trial.  Reiche faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on December 17, 2021. 

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, on the night of November 28, 2020, Reiche and co-defendant Samantha Frances Brooks, 24, were observed on video surveillance walking on the tracks near a crossing in Bellingham.  Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.  The defendants were detained for trespassing, and a shunt was found on the tracks near where the deputies had first encountered them.  Reiche was carrying a paper bag containing wire, a drill with a brush head, a magnetic adhesive and gloves.  The wire was similar to the wire used in the shunting incidents.  The shunt that was placed on the tracks could have interfered with the railroad crossing guard at Cliffside Drive in Bellingham.  A train carrying crude oil, among other cargo, was scheduled to come through that area soon after this incident.

Read more: Department of Justice