A 25-year-old man from Burke, Virginia took photos of various landmarks in Arlington and D.C. for inclusion in a video that would encourage “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, according to federal prosecutors.
Haris Qamar has been charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS. He’s due in federal court in Alexandria this afternoon.
According to a press release, below, the Pentagon was among the targets suggested by Qamar, who had been previously tried to join ISIS but was prevented from doing so because his father took his passport.
Haris Qamar, 25, of Burke, was arrested this morning on charges of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Qamar is scheduled to have his initial appearance today in front of Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson at 2 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on May 26, Qamar and FBI confidential witness (CW) discussed ISIL’s need of photos of possible targets in and around Washington, D.C., for use in a video that ISIL was purportedly making to encourage lone wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area. Qamar allegedly offered CW ideas of where to take these photographs, including the Pentagon and numerous landmarks in Arlington and Washington, D.C., which could be targeted for terrorist attacks. On June 3, a conversation was audio and video recorded when CW picked up Qamar in a vehicle and they drove to area landmarks on the list Qamar had developed. Qamar allegedly said “bye bye DC, stupid ass kufar, kill’em all”. Qamar and CW met again on June 10 and drove to a location in Arlington to take additional photos for the ISIL video.
The FBI first learned of Qamar as he operated over 60 variations of the Twitter handle “newerajihadi”, which Qamar used to express his support of ISIL and share videos and photos of extreme violence, including beheadings and mass shootings. For example, after terrorists murdered employees of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer for another similar attack with even more casualties.
According to the allegations, during numerous conversations with CW, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence ISIL is known for. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood and beheadings, and he recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered, and liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn. On several occasions Qamar allegedly said he could slaughter someone and described how he would do it. Qamar also stated that he admired lone wolf attackers because they love Islam so much that they are willing to die as martyrs for Islam and in the same conversation, Qamar and CW allegedly discussed suicide bombings. CW said that he did not believe in suicide bombings, but Qamar allegedly responded “I believe in it 100 percent.”
On Sept. 11, 2015, terrorists connected with ISIL posted a “kill list” to the internet containing the names and addresses of U.S. military members. A few days later, Qamar allegedly told CW that the residences of several service members who appeared on the “kill list” were near Qamar’s own home, and that Qamar had observed undercover police cars near those residences. According to the affidavit, on Sept. 16, 2015, Qamar tweeted his prayer that Allah “give strength to the mujahideen to slaughter every single US military officer.”
Additionally, the affidavit alleges that on Sept. 25, 2015, Qamar told CW that he tried to join the ISIL in 2014, but that his parents prevented him from going by controlling his passport. Qamar allegedly said that his parents threatened to notify law enforcement authorities and said that he fought with his father and called his father a traitor to Islam. According to the allegations, on Nov. 18, 2015, CW asked Qamar if his father gave him back his passport would he go and join ISIL, and in response, Qamar said if that happened, “I’m done, I leave.”
Qamar faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the charges were unsealed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg is prosecuting the case with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.