Federal Prosecutors Charge Huntsville Man with Material Support to Foreign Terrorist Organization
BIRMINGHAM – Earlier this week, federal prosecutors filed a terrorism charge against a Huntsville man who has acknowledged that he bought bomb-building ingredients last year, stated his aspirations to conduct ISIS-inspired attacks on police stations and Redstone Arsenal, and attempted to form a cell to conduct violent acts within the United States.
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. announced the charge and today’s guilty plea.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a one-count information charging AZIZ IHAB SAYYED, 23, with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. According to the charge and an accompanying plea agreement, Sayyed attempted to provide services and personnel (himself) to ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – knowing that ISIS is a designated foreign terrorist organization. Sayyed pled guilty to the charge before U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon. Sayyed’s plea agreement stipulates a 15-year prison sentence. The judge scheduled Sayyed’s sentencing hearing for June 20.
“The successful resolution of this case can be entirely attributed to the robust cooperation between local, state and federal members of law enforcement,” Town said. “The Madison County District Attorney’s Office, HPD, UAHPD, and especially the FBI played key, complimentary roles in this investigation and all contributed significantly in bringing Aziz Sayyed to justice. The National Security Division of the Department of Justice also played an important role in the investigation and prosecution of Sayyed. Moreover, Sayyed was brought to our attention because citizens saw something, so they said something. If we are to keep our cities safe, no matter the type of suspicious activity, our community must play an active role,” Town said.
“I want to commend the work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Huntsville Police Department, the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, and our many other law enforcement partners that worked to bring Mr. Sayyed to justice,” Sharp said. “The citizens of north Alabama can rest assured that the FBI will continue to work with our partners and the community to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention.”
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, according to the court documents. Sayyed shared the videos and expressed his support for ISIS and for ISIS terrorist attacks around the world.
Sayyed researched and learned how to make triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a highly volatile and extremely dangerous explosive material, then he purchased the necessary ingredients for the explosive, and professed his aspiration to use TATP in an explosive belt and/or a car bomb, according to his plea agreement.
On June 13, 2017, Sayyed met with an individual he understood to be an ISIS member. In fact, the person was an undercover employee (UCE) of the FBI. Sayyed and the UCE 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 are prosecuting the case with the assistance of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.