After helping ISIS with explosives and weapons, Houston man pleads guilty

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The podium in the press briefing room Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Washington, at the Department of Justice. Attorney General William Barr was to speak about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report during a news conference, (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) – A 20-year-old man entered a guilty plea to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.

Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, 20, is a U.S. citizen from Houston, Texas. He attempted to join and support the terrorist group in August 2017. He was arrested in December 2017, according to the DOJ. 

DOJ officials say his support for ISIS included providing information to other ISIS supporters about the use of machetes and how to build and use explosive materials.

With the intention of joining ISIS overseas, he began having numerous online conversations with other ISIS supporters, the release says. 

In these conversations, officials say he described his desire to fight for ISIS in Syria or Afghanistan. He said if he wasn’t given the opportunity to do this, he would construct an attack on non-Muslims in the U.S. and that it was his “dream” to be a martyr.

Damlarkaya also spoke to two other ISIS supporters on at least two separate occasions about the different ways of creating a bomb, according to the release. He specifically talked about making bombs from triacetone triperoxide (TATP).

In addition to explosives, Damlarkaya also provided information to fellow ISIS supporters on how to construct an automatic weapon, the DOJ says. 

He also said 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,” according to the DOJ.  

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

Damlarkaya will stay 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.

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