FBI Closes Out 2015 With Another Questionable Terrorism Bust
from the 2016-Goal:-Stay-the-Course dept
The FBI has managed to get one more terrorist bust on the books for FYE 2015.
Emanuel L. Lutchman, 25, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.According to the complaint, Lutchman had big, violent plans for New Year's Eve.
LUTCHMAN discussed with CS-2 [FBI informant] doing assassinations and using a pressure cooker bomb. LUTCHMAN said that he wanted to execute the plan so they could be "in and out," noting that they should make it "quiet and simple" so they can go about doing what they need to do to make hijra [leave the US and travel to Syria]. He also said that, after the operation, "they're going to be hunting for us," meaning that law enforcement authorities would be seeking to capture them. CS-2 asked LUTCHMAN if they would use a knife in the event they could not use a pressure cooker bomb or firearm(s).While Lutchman may have had big plans, he really didn't seem to have any of the necessary ingredients. He had occasional contact with a self-professed ISIL member overseas, but 99% of his planning was done with the assistance of three FBI informants. While he did profess a desire to perform an act of terrorism, nearly everything he needed to carry this out was going to need to be obtained from someone else.
LUTCHMAN stated that they would use knives during the attack, noting that he knew someone with a machete and that his wife has a dagger.And:
LUTCHMAN stated that they would need to wear masks during the operation so they would not get caught by law enforcement authorities, noting that he had a "brother" who would sell the masks for $5.Do you really need a "connect" for ski masks? I mean, maybe in Arizona. But upstate New York?
Both of these "sources" failed to produce the needed items, so Lutchman and an FBI informant headed to the nation's largest terrorist outfitter, Walmart. Even with the retail giant's famous low prices, Lutchman still needed seed money for his foray into terrorism. Fortunately, the FBI was there to help.
In the evening on or about December 29, 2015, LUTCHMAN met with CS-2 During the meeting, LUTCHMAN and CS-2 went to a Walmart store on Hudson Avenue in Rochester, New York, to purchase supplies for the operation. While there, they purchased 2 black ski masks, zip-ties, 2 knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves. Due to the fact that LUTCHMAN did not have any funds with him at the store, CS-2 paid approximately $40 for these items.Had it been left to Lutchman to carry out this attack, he may have been able to come up with a knife or two. The $5 ski masks apparently would have been out of his price range.
To be sure, Lutchman did make plenty of disturbing statements to the FBI informants, as well as to the overseas provocateur. He may truly have desired to commit an act of violence. But it does seem apparent he was pretty much incapable of moving forward with his plans on his own. Maybe he was just looking for a few people who would listen to him rant and never call him on his bullshit -- a position filled by competently by the three FBI informants.
The fact that he couldn't even come up with the $40 needed to fund a two-man knife attack makes the charge of "material support" somewhat laughable. Perhaps that's why the complaint makes it clear the "material support" being "provided" by Lutchman was very specific -- and, presumably, of limited use.
Attempt to provide material support and resources, namely, himself as personnel and services, to a designated foreign terrorist organization…"Himself" being the only thing anyone could count on Lutchman being in possession of when the time came to carry out the attack.
Then there's Lutchman's rap sheet:
EMANUEL L. LUTCHMAN is a 25~year old United States citizen, who currently resides in Rochester, New York. He is a self~professed Muslim convert with a criminal history dating back to approximately 2006 (which includes a New York state conviction for Robbery 2 from 2006, for which he served approximately 5 years in prison), as well as previous state Mental Hygiene arrests.The mental hygiene arrests suggest Lutchman could be a dangerous person -- not because of his allegiance to ISIL -- but in general. Mental hygiene arrests occur when a person is considered to be a danger to themselves or others. He may have been a threat, thanks to his mental issues, but a terrorist? Certainly, the mental instability could have made Lutchman much more susceptible to outside suggestions that he commit violence, but his arrest record suggests Lutchman didn't have the mental (and, apparently, financial) capacity to provide much "support" for the Islamic State's violent aims.
It may be safer now that Lutchman is off the streets, but this arrest doesn't really gain us any ground in the War on Terrorism. A majority of the FBI's busts have been just as dubious, suggesting the agency values quantity over quality when it comes to arresting suspected terrorists.