Manhattan Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to Terrorist Organization

Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion Attempted to Travel Overseas to Join Lashkar e-Tayyiba

The Department of Justice announced today that Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, a/k/a “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  In addition, Encarnacion was sentenced to a lifetime term of supervised release.  Encarnacion pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2020, before United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who also imposed today’s sentence.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “The National Security Division remains committed to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to join and support designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“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 in behalf of that terrorist organization,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York.  “Thanks to the FBI, the NYPD, and the Joint Terrorist Task Force, Encarnacion has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his crime.”

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 or Encarnacion, 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 Encarnacion 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 Encarnacion believed 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 Feb.7, 2019, from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) to the European City.  On Feb. 7, 2019, Encarnacion traveled to JFK Airport, where he was arrested by the FBI after he attempted to board that flight.

In addition to the prison term, Encarnacion was also sentenced to serve a life term of supervised release.

Assistant Attorney General Demers and Ms. Strauss 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 New York City Police Department.  Ms. 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.

This prosecution 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.

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    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not consider cost estimates in early major design decisions for the W87-1 warhead because it was not required to do so, but NNSA has since changed its guidance to require that cost be considered, according to a May 2019 NNSA review of program documentation. The design decisions that remain for features that would achieve either minimum or enhanced requirements for the W87-1 could affect cost, according to NNSA officials (see table). We found, however, that NNSA did not yet have study plans for assessing the costs and benefits of the remaining decisions consistent with best practices as detailed in NNSA's analysis of alternatives business procedure. NNSA does not require and only recommends that programs such as the W87-1 follow these best practices. By directing the W87-1 program and future weapons programs to follow best practices for design studies, or to justify and document deviations, NNSA would have better assurance that design studies apply consistent, reliable, and objective approaches. NNSA Cost Estimates for W87-1 Warhead Design Variations That Meet Minimum and Enhanced Requirements, as of December 2018 (Dollars in billions) W87-1 design variations Cost estimate rangea Design includes features that meet minimum safety and security requirements 7.7 - 13.3 Design includes enhanced safety and security features 8.6 - 14.8 Difference between the above estimate ranges 0.9 - 1.5 Source: National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) documentation | GAO-20-703 aThe cost ranges reflect low and high estimates for a single design variation. The ranges represent technical and production risk and uncertainty. It is not clear that NNSA will be able to produce sufficient numbers of pits—the fissile cores of the primary—to meet the W87-1 warhead's planned production schedule. Recent NNSA and independent studies have cast doubt on NNSA's ability to ready its two planned pit production facilities in time. If one facility is not ready to produce pits in the early 2030s, for example, NNSA would likely produce fewer weapons than planned, according to GAO's analysis of NNSA plans. We were unable to fully assess the extent to which the two pit production facilities will be ready to produce pits for the W87-1 because NNSA's plutonium program—which is managing the facility readiness efforts—has not yet completed an integrated schedule for the overall pit production effort. An integrated schedule is important, according to best practices, because it integrates the planned work, resources, and budget. An NNSA official stated that the program was building a schedule, but could not provide documentation that it would meet best practices. A schedule consistent with best practices would provide NNSA with better assurance that it will have adequate pits to meet planned W87-1 production. This is a public version of a classified report that GAO issued in February 2020. Information that NNSA or DOD deemed classified or sensitive has been omitted. The Department of Defense (DOD) and NNSA restarted a program in fiscal year 2019 to replace the capabilities of the aging W78 nuclear warhead with the W87-1. NNSA made key design decisions for this weapon from 2010 until the program was paused in 2014. NNSA estimated in December 2018 that the W87-1 would cost $8.6 billion to $14.8 billion, which could make it the most expensive warhead modernization program to date. NNSA plans to newly manufacture the entire warhead, including the two major nuclear components, called the primary and secondary, using facilities it is modernizing or repurposing. You asked us to examine plans for the W87-1 warhead. This report examines, among other things, the extent to which NNSA (1) considered cost estimates in prior design decisions for the W87-1 and the potential effects of remaining design decisions on program cost, and (2) will be able to produce sufficient numbers of key nuclear components to meet W87-1 production needs. GAO reviewed NNSA documentation on prior and remaining design decisions and preliminary cost estimates, reviewed warhead and component production schedules, and interviewed NNSA and DOD officials. GAO is making four recommendations, including that NNSA require programs such as the W87-1 to follow analysis of alternatives best practices when studying design options and that the plutonium program build an integrated schedule consistent with schedule best practices. NNSA generally agreed with the recommendations. For more information, contact Allison B. Bawden at (202) 512-3841 or bawdena@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
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