NEW YORK CITY, New York - A man who was arrested as he was about to board a plane at a New York City airport to travel to Pakistan to join a designated terrorist group as an 'executioner' has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion had pledged his allegiance to Lashkar e-Tayyiba ("LeT"), a Pakistan-based U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.
Encarnacion, a/k/a "Jihadistsoldgier," "Jihadinhear," "Jihadinheart," "Lionofthegood," made statements that he wanted to 'execute,' people, that he wanted to 'behead,' and 'shoot' people. He also said he wanted to carry out attacks in the United States, but lamented he didn't have the resources to do so.
Encarnacion pled guilty to attempting to provide material support to LeT in January this year.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams on Tuesday of this week sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
"Jesus Encarnacion plotted to travel abroad, to join and train with Lashkar e-Tayyiba, infamous worldwide for the jihadist murder of innocent civilians, and to carry out shootings, bombings, and beheadings on behalf of that terrorist organization. Thanks to the FBI, the NYPD, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Encarnacion has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his crime," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Tuesday.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said: "Unfortunately, individuals continue to attempt to travel to foreign countries to support terrorist organizations. Encarnacion's sentence reflects the seriousness with which the justice system takes these efforts. The National Security Division remains committed to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to join and support designated foreign terrorist organizations."
According to the criminal Complaint, Indictment, other court filings, and statements during court proceedings:
In November 2018, Encarnacion expressed his desire to join a terrorist group in an online group chat, where he met another individual ("CC-1").
CC-1 introduced Encarnacion to an individual who, unbeknownst to CC-1 was in fact an undercover FBI employee ("UC-1"). Encarnacion repeatedly expressed, in the course of recorded communications through a social media service with CC-1 and through an encrypted messaging service with UC-1, his allegiance to and support for LeT, which, since approximately 2001, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by both the United States Secretary of State and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Over several months, Encarnacion discussed his desire and plans to join LeT overseas so that he could receive training and participate in violent acts of terrorism. For example, Encarnacion told UC-1 that he was "ready to kill and die in the name of Allah" and sought UC-1's assistance to help him travel abroad to serve as an "executioner" for LeT, stating, "I want to execute. I want to behead. Shoot." Encarnacion further stated that he aspired to commit terrorist attacks ("a bombing and shooting") in the United States, but lacked "guidance" and "guns" to do so.
By early 2019, Encarnacion and UC-1 agreed on a plan that would allow him to join LeT in Pakistan. Encarnacion told UC-1 that he had made arrangements to travel to a particular city in Europe (the "European City"), as the first step in traveling to Pakistan to join LeT. Encarnacion purchased an airline ticket for a flight scheduled to depart on February 7, 2019, from John F. Kennedy International Airport ("JFK Airport") to the European City. On February 7, 2019, he traveled to JFK Airport, where he was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") after he attempted to board that flight.
In addition to the prison term, Encarnacion on Tuesday was also sentenced to serve a life term of supervised release.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Strauss praised the efforts of the FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the New York City Police Department, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies. Strauss also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice's National Security Division, as well as the New York Office of U. S. Customs and Border Protection.
The prosecution of Encarnacion is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David W. Denton Jr. and Kimberly J. Ravener are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Bridget Behling of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.
(Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey).