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Press Release

Alabama Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Aziz Ihab Sayyed, 23, of Huntsville, Alabama, was sentenced today to 15 years in prison followed by lifetime supervised release for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town for the Northern District of Alabama, and Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. of the FBI’s Birmingham field office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon.

“We will not tolerate threats to our national security from terrorist groups like ISIS, which continues to radicalize and encourage terrorists through the internet,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “The defendant, a citizen of this country, plotted to carry out attacks on his fellow Americans in our country, but was thwarted by the close cooperation of our partners in law enforcement.  This successful outcome should send a clear message to any other would-be terrorists that the National Security Division will find them and bring them to justice.”

“Aziz Sayyed was inspired by ISIS to kill or harm Americans and he has earned every bit of his prison term,” said U.S. Attorney Town.  “This case, and this investigation, serves as the gold standard for what is possible when federal, state and local law enforcement agencies work together.  The FBI did an outstanding job ensuring this investigation was successful by cultivating those layers of law enforcement necessary in cases like this.”

“The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is dedicated to identifying and bringing to justice those individuals who attempt to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, promote violent extremism, and threaten our national security,” said Special Agent in Charge Sharp.  “Today’s sentence is a culmination of the tireless efforts of our JTTF, and the invaluable partnership we have with the Huntsville Police Department.”

Sayyed pleaded guilty in March to the terrorism charge.  According to Sayyed’s plea agreement with the government, he attempted to provide services and personnel, namely himself, to ISIS.  He acknowledged that he bought bomb-building ingredients in 2017, that he stated his aspirations to conduct ISIS-inspired attacks on police stations and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and that he attempted to form a cell to conduct violent acts within the United States.

Between January and June of 2017 in Madison County, Sayyed, a U.S. citizen, obtained and viewed ISIS propaganda videos depicting ISIS forces committing bombings, executions by gunshot and beheading, and other violent acts.  Sayyed shared the videos and expressed his support for ISIS and for ISIS terrorist attacks around the world, according to his plea agreement.

Sayyed researched and learned how to make triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a highly volatile and extremely dangerous explosive material.  He then purchased the necessary ingredients for the explosive, and professed his aspiration to use TATP in an explosive belt or a car bomb.

On June 13, 2017, Sayyed met with an individual he understood to be an ISIS member.  In fact, the person was an undercover employee of the FBI.  Sayyed and the undercover employee discussed the danger of TATP, ISIS’s preference for the use of certain explosives, and Sayyed’s desire to assist ISIS, according to the plea agreement.  In that meeting, Sayyed offered to personally carry out attacks on behalf of ISIS.

The FBI investigated the case in conjunction with the Huntsville Police Department, Madison County District Attorney’s Office, Madison County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Army 902 MI Group, Redstone Arsenal’s Garrison Command, University of Alabama at Huntsville Police Department, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Cornelius and Davis Barlow of the Northern District of Alabama prosecuted the case with the assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. 

Updated June 20, 2018

Press Release Number: 18 - 816