Man Charged With Planning Dec. 31 Terror Attack in Upstate NY

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) -

With police on heightened alert in Times Square and elsewhere around the nation, the FBI announced the arrest of a 25-year-old man in upstate New York for allegedly providing material support to Islamic State and planning to “kill innocent civilians on [Dec. 31] in the name of the terrorist organization.”

Emanuel L. Lutchman, who was arraigned Thursday before a federal judge in Rochester, N.Y., said an Islamic State operative in Syria had encouraged him in emails to try to kill thousands of people in the Rochester area, according to court records.

According to court records, Lutchmen spent much of the last two months in contact with an Islamic State operative overseas, meeting with three FBI informants around Rochester, acquiring knives and other assault tools at a local Wal-Mart, and hoping to win a spot with the terrorist group in Syria.

A former convict, Lutchman allegedly told the FBI informants that joining Islamic State was a “dream come true.” He said, according to federal court records, “I will take a life. I don’t have a problem with that.”

The case caps a year that saw the FBI launch terrorism-related investigations in every state and jurisdiction, and make more than 60 arrests of alleged supporters of Islamic State or other extremist groups.

The year also saw three domestic incidents that the FBI considered terrorism.

On May 3, two armed men were shot and killed as they prepared to attack a contest to draw the founder of Islam in Garland, Texas. On July 16, a gunman was killed after he had shot and killed four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tenn.

And on Dec. 2, a married couple — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — were killed in a shootout with police after they had shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif.

Like Lutchman, court records claim, Farook and Malik were radicalized on the internet. Unlike Lutchman, though, they were inspired by Islamic State but not specifically directed to carry out an attack.

Court records describe Lutchman as a self-professed Muslim convert with a criminal history dating back to 2006, including a New York state conviction for robbery and a five-year prison sentence.

He did not enter a plea in court Thursday. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Lutchman then began considering a terror attack in the Rochester area to prove his allegiance to Islamic State, the FBI said. He told the informant he had been encouraged to kill “100000s of kuffar” on December 31, the affidavit said.

Lutchman told another FBI informant that he had been directed to “find the places where the most population” is and “take as many as possible out.”

Lutchman allegedly discussed “doing assassinations” and considered building a pressure cooker bomb similar to those used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Updated Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 8:57 pm