New York: An American national, who planned to travel overseas to join Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and become an "executioner" for the terrorist organisation, on Thursday pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the terror outfit.
Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, 30, of New York, who also went by the name 'Jihadistsoldgier' and 'Jihadinheart' pleaded guilty before US District Judge Ronnie Abrams to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced in April.
Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Encarnacion plotted to travel abroad to join and train with the LeT, "infamous worldwide for their brutal jihadist murder of innocent civilians", and to carry out shootings, bombings, and beheadings on their behalf.
Federal prosecutors noted that the LeT was responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, "including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008".
According to the criminal complaint, indictment, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceeding, in November 2018, Encarnacion expressed his desire to join a terrorist group in an online group chat, where he met another individual, who introduced him to an individual who was in fact an undercover FBI employee.
Encarnacion repeatedly expressed, in the course of recorded communications through a social media service with the individual and through an encrypted messaging service with the undercover agent, his allegiance to and support for LeT, which, since approximately 2001, has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by both the US 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. He told the undercover agent that he was "ready to kill and die" and sought his assistance to help him travel abroad to serve as an "executioner for LeT, stating, "I want to execute. I want to behead. Shoot."
Encarnacion stated that he aspired to commit terrorist attacks (a bombing and shooting) in the US, but lacked guidance and guns to do so.
By early 2019, Encarnacion and the undercover agent agreed on a plan that he believed would allow him to join LeT in Pakistan. He said he had made arrangements to travel to a particular city in Europe as the first step in travelling to Pakistan to join the terror group.
Encarnacion purchased an airline ticket for a flight scheduled to depart on February 7, 2019, from John F Kennedy International Airport here to a European City. He was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after he attempted to board that flight.