Federal agents in Rochester, New York, have arrested and charged a 25-year-old man they say planned a New Year’s Eve machete attack on behalf of the Islamic State.
Emanuel Lutchman, who federal prosecutors said has a history of mental issues, was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
“According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year’s Eve in the name of the terrorist organization,” Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a Justice Department statement on Thursday. “Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene and thwart Lutchman’s deadly plans.”
Lutchman allegedly planned to attack restaurants and bars in the Rochester area during the New Year’s celebrations “in furtherance of his plan to join ISIL overseas,” the Justice Department said.
“What began as an ISIL directive to harm the community ended with the arrest of this defendant and a message for any other individuals considering similar behavior,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. “You will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will be punished.”
Lutchman, an ex-con who converted to Islam while serving a five-year prison sentence for armed robbery, was allegedly in contact with known ISIS member overseas. Court documents reveal he was captured with aid of confidential informants reporting the Federal Bureau of Investigation who received thousands of dollars in exchange for the tip.
Among the items seized by the FBI during the arrest was a video in which Lutchman pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“I will take a life. I don’t have problem with that,” Lutchman reportedly told the contact on Dec. 28. He also expressed that he wanted to blow up a club or restaurant, and kidnap people and murder them.
He had previously purchased ski masks, multiple knives including a machete, duct tape, ammonia, and latex gloves at an area Walmart.
Seriously though, how did this shopping list not set off any alarm bells at Wal Mart? pic.twitter.com/kxjgQLyep1— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) December 31, 2015
Lutchman’s grandmother, Beverly Carridice, told NBC News on Thursday that her grandson was mentally ill and had been since childhood. According to Carridice, he had recently stabbed himself in the stomach during a failed suicide attempt.
Illustration via Max Fleishman