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Texas man pleads guilty after trying to join ISIS and provide info on machetes, explosives, more

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)
July 09, 2019

A 20-year-old U.S. citizen from Houston, Texas, has entered a guilty plea to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.

From August 2017 until his arrest in December 2017, Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya attempted to join and support ISIS, and provided information to other ISIS supporters about the use of machetes, the homemade construction of an automatic weapon and how to build and use explosive materials.

As part of his plans to join ISIS overseas, starting in approximately early August 2017, Damlarkaya had numerous online conversations with individuals he believed to be fellow ISIS supporters.  During these discussions, he described his intentions to travel overseas to fight for ISIS in Syria or Afghanistan.  Damlarkaya added that if he was unsuccessful in joining ISIS overseas, he would conduct an attack on non-Muslims in the United States and that it was his “dream” to be a martyr.

Damlarkaya also provided information to other ISIS supporters, on at least two separate occasions, about ways to manufacture a bomb.  Specifically, he described how to make explosives formula using triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and cautioned  the others to “take safety seriously while you make this” to be “useful until you can strike.”

Damlarkaya also provided other ISIS supporters with information about how to construct an automatic weapon. He also claimed that he could buy a “GIANT machete for $15” and stated “a lot of us are poor. . .  or we don’t have experience.  So not all of us can get a gun or make explosives, but we can afford to buy a $15 knife.”  He claimed that he slept with a machete under his pillow ready to use if law enforcement raided his house.

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When agents arrested Damlarkaya, they executed a search warrant at his residence and found a machete by his bed.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for Sept. 30, 2019.  At that time, Damlarkaya faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 possible fine.

He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alamdar Hamdani and Rob Jones are prosecuting the case along with DOJ Trial Attorneys Kevin Nunnally and Gregory Gonzalez of National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

This is a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

This press release was originally published by the U.S. Department of Justice.