Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi led the Islamic State from 2014 until his death in 2019 when he detonated a suicide vest during a raid by U.S. forces. File Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense
Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A New Mexico man was arrested Friday for trying to help the Islamic State terrorist group while a New York man pleaded guilty in a separate case for planning a knife attack on behalf of ISIS, the Justice Department said.
Herman Leyvoune Wilson has been charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and attempting to obstruct, influence and impede at least one official proceeding, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Wilson, a 45-year-old man from Albuquerque who goes by the alias Bilal Mu'Min Abdullah, allegedly tried to establish an "Islamic State Center" in New Mexico between January 2020 and November 2021.
The Justice Department said that Wilson tried to establish the so-called Islamic State Center to teach ISIS ideology and train fighters in tactical maneuvers and martial arts.
He also allegedly helped administer an online platform to promote and recruit others to ISIS ideology and discuss terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad from May 2019 to September 2020 when he shut down the platform and tried to destroy records relating to it, the Justice Department said.
Kristopher Matthews and Jaylin Molina, two men who said that Wilson radicalized them, were arrested in September 2020 and previously pleaded guilty to providing material support to ISIS. Molina also pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography.
In July, Matthews was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Molina was scheduled to 18 years in prison for providing material support to ISIS. Molina also received a sentence of 216 months to run concurrently for the child pornography charge.
Wilson's arrest came as Awais Chudhary, a 22-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan who lives in the New York City borough of Queens, pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court on Friday for attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
Chudhary pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the leader of ISIS, in August 2019 after watching violent terrorist propaganda videos, the Justice Department said in a news release.
He began plotting a "lone-wolf" bomb or knife attack targeting pedestrian bridges in Queens including over the Grand Central Parkway and the Flushing Bay Promenade, conducting several reconnaissance trips and making video recordings of the areas he planned to attack.
"Chudhary ordered items online that he intended to use to commit a terrorist attack, including a tactical knife, a mask, gloves, and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack," the Justice Department said.
He was busted as he tried to retrieve the items he ordered from a retail locker in Queens. He faces up to 20 years in prison during the sentencing phase of his trial.