Defendant Disseminated ISIS Propaganda and Bomb-Making Instructions in an Effort to Incite Acts of Terrorism and Violence in New York City and Elsewhere
WASHINGTON – A New York man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, aka ISIS.
Zachary Clark, aka Umar Kabir, Umar Shishani and Abu Talha, 42, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in August 2020 to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, ISIS.
“Today’s 20-year sentence recognizes the gravity of Clark’s conduct, including his calls for other ISIS supporters to carry out lone wolf terrorist attacks in New York City,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Having pledged allegiance to ISIS, Clark provided others with specific instructions on knifing and bomb-making for use in such attacks. We remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism and committed to identifying and holding accountable those who threaten our communities through their support for foreign terrorist organizations.”
“Zachary Clark pledged allegiance to ISIS and posted calls for attacks on the public and institutions in New York City on encrypted pro-ISIS chatrooms, along with detailed instructions for carrying out those violent acts,” said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York. “Thanks to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Clark’s efforts to incite deadly violence on behalf of ISIS have been silenced. Today’s sentence sends a clear message that those who seek to further ISIS’s campaign of terror and violence, no matter the method, will face serious consequences.”
“The FBI remains steadfast in the fight against terrorism,” said Acting Assistant Director Patrick Reddan for the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “I would like to thank the men and women of the FBI, along with our partners in law enforcement, for holding accountable individuals, such as Zachary Clark, who pledge allegiance to ISIS and support and spread their violent terrorist agenda. We remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism and protect the American people, and today’s sentencing underscores that commitment.”
According to court documents, Clark pledged allegiance to ISIS twice: first in July 2019 to ISIS’s then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and then in October 2019 to ISIS’s new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Sashemi al-Qurayshi, whom ISIS promoted after al-Baghdadi’s death. Beginning in at least March 2019, Clark disseminated ISIS propaganda through, among other avenues, encrypted chatrooms intended for members, associates, supporters and potential recruits of ISIS. Clark’s propaganda included, among other things, calls for ISIS supporters to commit lone wolf attacks in New York City.
For example, on Aug. 3, 2019, Clark posted instructions about how to conduct such an attack, including directions on how to select an attack target, how to conduct preoperational surveillance, how to conduct operational planning and how to avoid attracting law enforcement attention when preparing for and conducting the attack. On another occasion, Clark posted a manual entitled “Knife Attacks,” which stated, among other things, that discomfort at “the thought of plunging a sharp object into another person’s flesh” is “never an excuse for abandoning jihad” and that “[k]nives, though certainly not the only weapon for inflicting harm upon the kuffar [non-believers], are widely available in every land and thus readily accessible.”
Clark urged the participants in encrypted chatrooms to attack specific targets, posting maps and images of the New York City subway system and encouraging ISIS supporters to attack those locations. Clark’s guidance also included posting a manual entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” which was issued by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and included detailed instructions about constructing bombs using readily available materials.
The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD and over 50 other federal, state and local agencies, investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gillian Grossman, Matthew Hellman and Sidhardha Kamaraju of the Southern District of New York prosecuted the case with assistance from Trial Attorneys Jason Denney and Chad Davis of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.