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Press Release

Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Plotting to Carry out Terrorist Attacks in New York City for ISIS in Summer of 2016

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 20, of Missausagua, Canada, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and a lifetime of supervised release, for plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in New York City during the summer of 2016 in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty on Oct. 13, 2016, to a seven-count Superseding Information charging El Bahnasawy with terrorism offenses. 

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York field office, Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.  The sentence was issued by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

“El Bahnasawy conspired with others to conduct terrorist attacks in New York City in support of ISIS, and came into this country to carry them out. Today’s sentence reflects the severity of his conduct and holds him accountable for his terrorist activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “I want to commend the prosecutors, agents, and analysts who are responsible for this successful result.  The National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to harm to our country and our citizens.”

“In the name of ISIS, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy planned an elaborate attack to wreak havoc and destruction on New York City,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “He planned to detonate bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system, and to shoot civilians at concert venues.  Demonstrating his commitment to carry out the attacks, El Bahnasawy pinpointed bomb locations on a map of the subway system, and acquired an array of bomb-making materials.  El Bahnasawy aspired, in his words, to ‘create the next 9/11.’  Thanks to our law enforcement partners in New York, nationally, and internationally, this potentially devastating plot was thwarted.”

Using encrypted electronic messaging applications, El Bahnasawy, a 20-year-old Canadian citizen and resident, plotted with Talha Haroon, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Pakistan, and Russell Salic, a 38-year-old Philippines citizen and resident, to conduct bombings and shootings in heavily populated areas of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan in 2016, all in the name of ISIS (the NYC Attacks).  El Bahnasawy acquired bomb-making materials and helped secure a cabin within driving distance of New York City to use for building explosive devices and staging the NYC Attacks.  Haroon allegedly made plans to travel from Pakistan to New York City to join El Bahnasawy in carrying out the attacks.  And as El Bahnasawy and Haroon prepared to execute the NYC Attacks, Salic allegedly wired money from the Philippines to the United States to help fund the terrorist operation.

An undercover FBI agent (the UC) infiltrated the co-conspirators’ terrorist plot, posing as an ISIS supporter prepared to join in the attacks.  The FBI arrested El Bahnasawy in May 2016 after he traveled from Canada to the New York City area in preparation for the attacks, and he has been in custody since that time.  Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in September 2016, and Salic was arrested in the Philippines in April 2017, based on Complaints filed against them in Manhattan federal court, and they remain in foreign custody pending proceedings for their extradition to the United States.

The charges contained in the Complaints filed against Haroon and Salic are merely accusations, and Haroon and Salic are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the FBI’s Los Angeles and Denver Field Offices.  Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman also thanked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, the FBI’s Legal Attaché Offices in Canada, Pakistan, and the Philippines, the New York State Police, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California for their assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Negar Tekeei and George D. Turner of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorneys Joshua Champagne and Larry Schneider of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Updated December 19, 2018

National Security
Press Release Number: 18-1669