Wednesday, September 6, 2023

My Threatcon Column: Juvenile in Philadelphia Arrested On Terrorism-Related Charges

Counterterrorism magazine posted my Threatcon column on their website. 

You can read the column via the below link or the below text:

 IACSP - ThreatCon Articles 

Quaker William Penn named the city he founded between the Delaware River and the Schuylkill River in his Pennsylvania colony “Philadelphia,” as the name means “brotherly love” in Greek.

But one young Philadelphia resident stands accused of feeling more hate than love with his alleged crimes of storing weapons of mass destruction and being in contact with foreign terrorist organizations.

On August 14th, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrest of the 17-year-old suspect. The unnamed juvenile was charged with Weapons of Mass Destruction, Criminal Conspiracy, Arson, Causing/Risking Catastrophe, Attempt to Commit Criminal Mischief, Possession of an Instrument of Crime, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.

The juvenile was arrested by FBI agents at his home in West Philadelphia after an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“The work of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force potentially thwarted a catastrophic terrorist attack in the name of a perverted ideology that in no way, shape, or form represents the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of peace-seeking people of faith, including Muslims,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “The charges we have filed against this individual represent the most serious alleged terrorist activity prosecuted in Philadelphia County court in recent history.

We intend to pursue full accountability for these crimes and will continue to work vigilantly with our law enforcement partners to protect all of our communities from hateful, ideologically driven acts of violence.”

Jacqueline Maguire, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of Philadelphia Office, added, “Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks is the FBI’s number one priority, and I think it’s very fair to say that lives were saved because of this investigation.

“Investigations like this one – with the amazing work that continues and the successful mitigation of such a significant threat – are exactly why we do what we do, and yet another reminder of what a privilege it is to serve with such dedicated colleagues. I’m so proud of my team for their incredible work on this case, and thankful to our partners for their significant and continued assistance.”

The law enforcement officials went on to state that the juvenile is alleged to have been in contact with individuals and groups designated by the U.S. State Department as global terrorists, including Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (“KTJ”), which is believed to primarily operate in Syria and is responsible for attacks including the deadly April 2017 attack on the St. Petersburg, Russia, metro and the 2016 suicide car bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

According to the law enforcement officials, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators were able to connect a social media account to that communicated with an account affiliated with KTJ in March and April of 2023 to the juvenile.

The juvenile’s phone number was also found by investigators to have a banner of Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyrs’ Brigade, a Chechnya-based terrorist group, as its profile photo. On August 6, according to the Task Force, the juvenile’s WhatsApp profile photo was changed to the image of the ISIS banner.

“Self-radicalization by young people via the internet is a threat to all families. Parents: Keep an eye out for violent cults that would lure in your kids under the guise of politics or religion,” Krasner stated. “The juvenile is further alleged to have received messages related to construction of improvised explosive devises (IEDs) and to have purchased materials online such as chemical cleaners that are used to construct IEDs, as well as outdoor or tactical gear.”

The juvenile was observed by investigators as he purchased materials that can be used to make IEDs, and recovered from his household trash materials including electric wiring that can be used to construct IEDs. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also provided records revealing 14 international shipments of military and tactical gear to the juvenile’s address.

The juvenile is the son of a prominent Muslim criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia who ran unsuccessfully for a judge in the last election.

The attorney, Qawi Abdul-Rahman, told the Daily Beast that he was shocked and devasted to discover that his 17-year-old son was arrested for by the FBI for terrorist activity.

He told the Daily Beast that neither he nor his wife were home during the raid. Only the 17-year-old and his two siblings were present. The attorney rushed home, where he found a pair of armored FBI vehicles and members of the press outside his home. The FBI then handcuffed and led the son out and into the FBI vehicles.

Sources say the feds may indict the parents in the near future. The suspect’s mother co-signed her son's passport application and took her son to Lowe's to shop for chemicals that might be used in a homemade bomb. The father gave the suspect access to 60 or more guns and must have known that their son was blasting homemade bombs in their yard.

Sources say a judge will soon permit the juvenile to be prosecuted as an adult.

Paul Davis, a longtime contributor to the Journal, covers crime, espionage and terrorism in his Threatcon column.


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