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US man charged with planning ISIS attack on New Year’s eve

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New York: A 25-year old man, who had pledged support to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, has been arrested in the US and charged with planning to carry out an attack against civilians at a restaurant near here on New Year’s eve.

Emanuel Lutchman was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a USD 250,000 fine.

“According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman’s attempt to provide material support to ISIS, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year’s Eve in the name of the terrorist organisation,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said in announcing the charges. The complaint said Lutchman is a “self-professed Muslim convert” with a criminal history dating back to 2006.

According to court records, he had claimed to receive direction from an overseas ISIS member and planned to commit an armed attack against civilians at a restaurant/bar located in the Rochester area on New Year’s Eve on behalf of ISIS and in furtherance of his plan to join ISIS overseas.

The defendant made an initial appearance this morning before US Magistrate Judge Marian Payson of the US Western District of New York. Prosecutors said Lutchman communicated with an individual who had been cooperating with the FBI and had expressed his strong support for ISIS and his desire to travel overseas and join ISIS in Syria.

Lutchman told the individual that he was in contact with an ISIS supporter overseas who told him that since New Year’s eve is approaching, he should do some “operations and kill” people to show his seriousness towards ISIS.

He also discussed doing assassinations and using a pressure cooker bomb and in one of the meetings with the cooperating individual, Lutchman said he wanted to target a club or bar where they “sneak” a bomb, “kidnap a couple of people and kill them”.

The arrest and charges against Lutchman come amid growing concerns over residents in the US pledging support for ISIS. Earlier this month, ISIS supporters Pakistan-born Tashfeen Malik, 29 and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28 went on a shooting spree at a holiday party in San Bernardino killing 14 people and injuring several others.

The duo had pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS in posts on social media before accruing out the attack and were later killed in a police shootout.

Security has been increased considerably on New Year’s Eve across the city, which is a favorite destination for locals and tourists to ring in the new year. The New York Police Department will deploy 6,000 officers around Times Square for the annual New Year’s ball drop, about 600 to 800 more officers than usual, Police Commissioner William J Bratton said.

PTI

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