Islamic State sympathizer planned N.Y. terror attack on New Year's Eve, FBI says

By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Dec. 31, 2015 at 7:21 PM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A 25-year-old man was arrested this week for allegedly plotting a terror attack Thursday night on a restaurant in upstate New York Thursday, federal investigators said.

The FBI said ex-con and Muslim convert Emanuel L. Lutchman was arrested Wednesday at his home in Rochester for planning to launch a machete attack on New Year's Eve. A relative said Lutchman suffers from mental health problems.

Investigators said Lutchman is a terrorist sympathizer and had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The FBI also said he had been in contact with at least one operative in Syria who urged him to kill non-Muslims on New Year's Eve.

"According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman's attempt to provide material support to ISIL, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year's Eve in the name of the terrorist organization." Assistant Attorney General Carlin said Thursday. "Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene and thwart Lutchman's deadly plans."

The FBI said Lutchman gathered knives, a machete, ski masks and zip ties for the assault and may have even been planning to kidnap someone.

"New years [sic] is here soon. Do operations and kill some [non--Muslims]," the militant contact in Syria told Lutchman, court papers say.

As a result of the foiled plot, the city of Rochester canceled its New Year's Eve celebration.

Lutchman's grandmother told NBC News that he has suffered from psychological problems since childhood and stabbed himself in the stomach recently in a suicide attempt. He was raised Christian but converted to Islam while serving a five-year prison sentence for robbery, she added.

Lutchman appeared in court Thursday to face a charge of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

"This New Year's Eve prosecution underscores the threat of ISIL even in upstate New York but demonstrates our determination to immediately stop any who would cause harm in its name," United States attorney William J. Hochul Jr., said.

"The arrest of Emanuel Lutchman is an important reminder of the new normal of global terrorism," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Undercover informers gathered information on Lutchman's attack and provided it to authorities, federal agents said.

"I'm getting amped up, to accept the fact that's what I gotta do, cause I want to make hijra," Lutchman said in one conversation, according to the court document.

"The FBI thwarted Emanuel Lutchman's intent to kill civilians on New Year's Eve," said Special Agent in Charge Cohen. "The FBI remains concerned about people overseas who use the Internet to inspire people in the United States to commit acts of violence where they live."

The FBI said Lutchman had neither the resources nor the knowledge to carry out a large-scale attack.

If convicted, Lutchman would face a 20-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

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