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Feds: Another CT man charged with trying to support ISIS

Members from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service present Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a flag from Bartilah, a town recaptured just outside of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Released)
December 20, 2019

A town man is the second area resident this week revealed to be charged in an alleged terrorism plot, according to federal officials.

Kevin Iman Mccormick, 26, of Hamden, is charged by indictment with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, federal officials said in a release.

The other man, Ahmad Khalil Elshazly, 22, was arrested Sunday after a lengthy investigation. According to the Department of Justice, Elshazly decided to go to Turkey via boat to elude airport security, but an expert on terrorism said he likely wouldn’t have gotten by that security, either, and likely wouldn’t have found ISIS even if he did.

Federal authorities said McCormick was arrested on Oct. 21, and a federal grand jury in New Haven returned the indictment charging him on Oct. 30. The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint was unsealed Thursday.

McCormick allegedly made several statements to others expressing a desire to travel to Syria and to fight for ISIS, according to court documents and statements made in court, a release from the office of Connecticut U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, and Brian C. Turner, Special agent in charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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“I gotta fight bro, because those people, Abu Masa and ISIL, they fought for me bro, I know it, I can feel it, in my heart. So it’s my time to fight . . . It just is what it is bro, it’s just my — it’s just my time to go bro,” McCormick said in one conversation, the release said.

About where he would like to travel, McCormick, responding to a question, said: “I don’t know, I don’t know bro — it’s gotta be like Syria. Where ISIL is at….whichever place is easiest, whichever place I can get there the fastest, the quickest, the easiest, and where I can have a rifle and I can have some people bro. That’s what I need, I need a rifle and I need some people, I need Islamic law, I need, that’s what I need, because if I have these things, it’s going to be very hard to kill me,” authorities said in the release.

It is also alleged that, on October 12, 2019, Authorities allege McCormick attempted to board a flight from Connecticut to Jamaica on Oct. 12, but was stopped by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “McCormick subsequently told an individual that he wanted to travel to Jamaica, and then onward to Syria to join ISIS. He also indicated that he wanted to acquire weapons,” the release said.

In Elshazly’s case, it is alleged in the criminal complaint that, beginning in approximately September 2018, Elshazly, a U.S. citizen, made numerous statements to others, both in person and through online messaging applications, expressing a desire to travel to Syria and the surrounding area to fight on behalf of ISIS.

That complaint alleges that in February 2019, Elshazly stated that he had saved approximately $1,000 with the intention of using the money to travel to Jordan to transit to Syria to be with ISIS. In his case, it is alleged that, because he was concerned about being stopped by law enforcement at an airport, Elshazly arranged to travel by ship to Turkey. Elshazly provided another individual with $500 that Elshazly believed would be used to pay for a portion of his trip, according to federal officials. On Dec. 15, Elshazly was arrested after he arrived in Stonington, expecting to board a boat to begin his trip.

Ken Gray, a retired FBI counterterrorism expert and lecturer in the University of New Haven’s criminal justice department, said following Elshazly’s arrest that “It’s important to get these guys. Not only are they a threat over there,” but a threat on US. soil. Gray noted the danger presented by “lone wolf” attacks.

In McCormick’s case it is further alleged that he made a video on Oct. 19 during which he pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, according to federal officials. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has since died. McCormick also purchased a plane ticket from Toronto, Canada, to Amman, Jordan and on Oct. 21 was arrested after “he traveled to a small private airport in Connecticut where he expected to board a plane that would fly him to Canada,” the release said.

McCormick took a train from New Haven’s Union Station to travel to the airport, the criminal complaint says.

In August, members of a local Muslim community center in a state that was not named had reported McCormick because he made concerning statements, the release said. McCormick reportedly said to community members that “we should support ISIS,” and “Jihad is the way to go,” the release said. In early September, law-enforcement personnel reviewed McCormick’s public Facebook page, which revealed, among other things, “ISIS-related videos and videos of McCormick shooting what appeared to be a Glock pistol at a firearms range.”

McCormick had worked as a contract driver for a large company but was fired in September, according to the release.

“After being fired, McCormick entered a large store in Washington State and attempted to purchase a firearm and knife. The sales associates at the store did not know McCormick had just been fired. McCormick behaved strangely and told the sales associates that the purchase of the firearm was ‘not for an animal,’” and the associate “declined to sell McCormick the firearm,” according to the release.

McCormick has been detained since his arrest.

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© 2019 the New Haven Register