A New York man who once attended Columbia University traveled to Syria intending to join the Islamic State. He then wrote an email to the FBI saying he wanted to go back home.
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . - -
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- against -
(T. 18, U.S.C., 233913(a)(1) and 2)
DefendantEASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, SS:
CHRISTOPHER I. BUSCAGLIA, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he
is a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned to the BI ?5 Joint
Terrorism Task Force duly appointed according to law and acting as such.
PROVISION OF MATERIAL SUPPORT
TO A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
Upon information and belief, in or about and between June 2014 and the
present, both dates being approximate and inclusive, within the Eastern District of New York
and elsewhere, the defendant? did knowingly and intentionally
provide material support and resources, as de?ned in 13 U.S.C. 2339A(b), including
personnel, including himself, to a foreign terrorist organization, to wit: the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant which has been designated by the Secretary of State as a
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foreign terrorist organization since May 15, 2014, pursuant to Section 219 of the ImmigratiOn
and Nationality Act.
(Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2339B(a)(1) and 3551 e_t
The source of your deponent?s information and the grounds for his belief are as
1. I have been a Special Agent with the FBI since 2010, andl am assigned
to the New York JTTF. I am responsible for conducting and assisting in investigations into
the activities of individuals and criminal groups responsible for committing acts of terrorism,
including, among others, those who associate with or are members of the foreign terrorist
Organization As a Special Agent, 1 have participated in numerous investigations during
the course of which I have conducted physical surveillance, executed court-authorized
searches, and used other investigative techniques to secure relevant infOrmation regarding
2. have personally participated in the investigation of the offense
discussed below. I am familiar with the facts and circumstances of this investigation from:
my personal participation in this investigation; interviews with witnesses; my review of
records and reports generated by other law enforcement agents in the United States and
elsewhere; my review of communications recovered during the iHVestigation; and
Because the purpose of this complaint is to provide only probable cause to arrest, I
have not described all the relevant facts and circumstances of which I am aware.
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information provided to me by other agents and law enforcement of?cials.
3. Excerpts of documents, e-mails and other conversations and
correspondence, when referred to herein, are drawn from summaries. Where statements of
others are set forth, except as otherwise noted, they are set forth in sum and substance and in
A. Background on ISIL
4. United States law enforcement agents, including members of the New
York JTTF, have been investigating individuals located in the United States and abroad who
may have traveled to Syria to ?ght violent jihad and provide material support to designated
foreign terrorist organizations, including ISIL, that are operating in that country.
5. On October 15, 2004, the United States Secretary of State designated
al-Qa?ida in Iraq, then known as Iarn?at a] Tawhid wa?aI-Jihad, as a Foreign Terrorist
Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a
Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224.
On May 15, 2014, the Secretary of State amended the designation of al-Qa?ida in Iraq as a
FTO under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist Entity under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 to add the
alias ISIL as its primary name. The Secretary also added the following aliases to the ISIL
listing: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
ad?Dawla al-Islarniyya al-?Iraq wa?sh?Sham, Daesh, Dawla a1 Islamiya, and
Al~Furqan Establishment for Media Production. Although the group has never called itself
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?Al?Qaeda in Iraq,? this name has frequently been used to describe it through its history. In
an audio recording publicly released on June 29, 2014, ISIL announced a formal change of
its name to Islamic State
6. The defendant? is a United States citizen.
is approximately 25 years old, and was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where he
resided until June 2014. On or about June 5, 2014, based on information indicating that
may have been considering traveling to Syria to support ISIL, investigators from the
JTTF visited him at his residence in Brooklyn. During a brief consensual interview,
stated to the agents, in sum and substance and in part, that he was interested in
events in Syria and generally supported ?rebel groups? who were ?ghting against the Syrian
government. The defendant also claimed that he lacked the resources to travel to Syria, and
that he did not know what he would do if he got there.
C. Travel to Syria
7. According to airline records thatI have personally reviewed, on or about
June 12, 2014, the defendant? boarded a ?ight from
John F. Kennedy International Airport by way of Istanbul,
Turkey. Investigators determined that_ did not board his connecting ?ight in
Turkey, and apparently made his way from Istanbul to Syria after his arrival in Turkey.
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D. E-Mail to FBI
8. On or about October 31, 2014, an individual subsequently identi?ed as
the defendant sent an e-mail to the FBI in which he stated, in sum
and substance and in part, that he was overseas, and wanted to come home. More speci?cally,
the defendant stated, in pertinent part:
I?m an American who's trying to get back home from Syriacan verify who I am with random
information you ask me. . . . I?ve coordinated a way to get to the
border . . . in Turkey and near . . . Syria . . . by use of civilian
smugglers. My problem is that I need a pickup from trusted
sources because I?m without passport. It was taken, and they
won?t give it back. . . . If someone can pick me up safely from
across the border before [Kurdish forces] get to me, then I?ll be
100% in the right hands. . . . Please help. I had a. week [sic]
thought out letter, but it?s too risky to have it saved on my device.
I?ll try to write to you soon in full explanation. But right now
my window is closing.
Ijust wt to get back
home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration
thereafter, and have everything back to normal with me and my
family. . . . Please help me get homewith this evil. But
please first coordinate our extraction as soon as possible.
The defendant also provided the name of a ITTF Task Force Of?cer who had interviewed him
and his own social security number to authenticate that the message was indeed from him. In
addition, the defendant requested that the US. government deliver to his family ?a letter of
promise of complete excneration for them to submit to a lawyer by today.? He concluded,
?I?m doing my best to come back and give back to my government what trust I violated.?
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E. _Admissions Regarding Support to ISIL
9. Before the FBI could verify his identity and formulate a response to the
defendant?s email, on or about November 3, 2014, the defendant
made his way to a US. consulate of?ce in Turkey, near the border with Syria, and asked to
speak to officials from the U.S. government.
assigned to the consulate agreed to meet with the defendant. I have been
informed that, during the meeting, the defendant told-, in sum and substance and in
part, that he had joined and worked for ISIL. More speci?cally, the defendant stated that,
after arriving in Syria in or about the summer of 2014 and making contact with ISIL, he had
served as a guard at an ISIL headquarters building, subsequently served in an administration
and inventory position, and was then assigned to teach other ISIL members how to use
computer software. The defendant further stated that he carried a ?rearm in connection with
his service to ISIL.
10. During the meeting the defendant
also claimed that he was never involved in any ?ghting. In addition, the defendant
reviewed a map of the region and detailed how he was smuggled into Syria, and
where he was stationed. The defendant also stated that he fully expected to go to jail in the
U.S., but hoped that his cooperation would prevent him from spending the rest of his life in
- At the defendant?s request, the interview was audio recorded. In addition, the
defendant signed a written statement summarizing his purposes in meeting
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11. WHEREFORE, your deponent respectfully requests that an arrest
warrant be issued for the defendant?so that he may be dealt with
according to law.
REE QUEST FOR SEALING
It is further requested that this af?davit, arrest warrant, and other papers
submitted in support of this application be sealed until further order of the Court so as to
prevent notifying the defendant and his associates of the pending warrant, which might result
in the destruction of evidence and the ?ight of coconSpirators, with the exception that the
complaint and arrest warrant shall be unsealed for the limited purpose of disclosing the
existence of or disseminating the complaint and! or arrest warrant to relevant United States,
foreign, or intergovernmental authorities, at the discretion of the United States and in
connection with efforts to prosecute the defendant or to secure the defendant?s arrest,
extradition or expulsion, or as otherwise required for purposes of national security.
Special Agent t-
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Sworn to before me this
claw Novemberyletfl A
STATES IS GE