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Awais Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Brooklyn to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Today’s proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy. When sentenced, Chudhary faces up to 20 years in prison.
Breon S. Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew G. Olsen, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the guilty plea.
“Awais Chudhary has admitted to planning to carry out a lone wolf terrorist attack in Queens against innocent civilians in an embrace of ISIS’s murderous cause,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Thanks to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Chudhary’s efforts to commit deadly violence on behalf of ISIS were thwarted, lives were saved, and he now awaits sentencing for his heinous crime.”
“As he admitted today, Mr. Chudhary planned to bring terror to the people of New York City on behalf of ISIS. The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), with its tireless vigilance, was able to successfully disrupt his plot, keeping our city safe from this potential lone wolf terrorist. The FBI, along with our partners on the JTTF, remain committed to our highest priority of defending the United States from terrorism,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“Mr. Chudhary has admitted to providing material support, from American soil, to terrorists based overseas,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “He is a naturalized U.S. citizen who abandoned the country that took him in, and instead pledged allegiance to ISIS and repeatedly and diligently promoted its violent objectives. Clearly, the threat of ISIS-inspired terrorism remains very real, and the members of our FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force will never stop working to identify anyone aiding groups that consider our country their sworn enemy.”
According to court filings, in August 2019, after watching violent terrorist propaganda videos, Chudhary pledged his allegiance to ISIS’s then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and began planning for a knife or bomb attack as a lone wolf ISIS supporter. Chudhary identified targets, including the pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway and the Flushing Bay Promenade, where he intended to carry out the attacks. Chudhary sought guidance from individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters, including what type of knife to use and how to prevent detection from law enforcement by not leaving “traces of finger prints [or] DNA.” Chudhary also sent a screenshot of a document from an ISIS propaganda magazine that included a diagram of the human body depicting where to stab victims with a knife. Chudhary conducted several reconnaissance trips to these locations and made video recordings of the areas he intended to attack.
Chudhary ordered items online that he intended to use to commit a terrorist attack, including a tactical knife, a mask, gloves, and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack, which he hoped would serve as inspiration to other ISIS supporters. Chudhary was arrested as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online retailer’s locker in Queens.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Algor and Ellen Sise are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Kevin Nunnally of the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section.
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-135 (CBA)
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office