Zachary Clark, 40, of Brooklyn, New York, was arrested in the borough on Wednesday and was expected to appear before Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court on the same day.
Clark was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, and one count of distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, and faces up to 40 years in prison.
According to the complaint, he had previously pledged his allegiance to ISIS twice, first in July 2019, to its then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and then in October 2019, to ISIS’s new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Sashemi al-Qurayshi.
“As alleged, Zachary Clark twice pledged allegiance to ISIS, and posted on encrypted pro-ISIS chatrooms numerous exhortations and instructions on bomb-making and other terrorist acts to be carried out in New York,” so said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York.
He added: “Thanks to the Joint Terrorist Task Force, Clark now faces serious criminal charges for his alleged support of a terrorist organization bent on killing Americans.”
As per the complaint, beginning in March 2019, Clark spread ISIS propaganda through, among other methods, encrypted chat rooms intended for members, associates, supporters, and potential recruits of the terror group.
Clark’s propaganda included calls for ISIS supporters to commit lone-wolf attacks in New York City, and on Aug. 3, 2019, he posted instructions about how to conduct such an attack.
The instructions included guidance on how to select a target, how to conduct preoperational surveillance and planning, and how to avoid attracting the attention of law enforcement when preparing for and conducting such an attack.
On another occasion, Clark posted a manual entitled “Knife Attacks,” which stated that discomfort at “the thought of plunging a sharp object into another person’s flesh” is “never an excuse for abandoning jihad.”
It also said that “[k]nives, though certainly not the only weapon for inflicting harm upon the kuffar [non-believers] are widely available in every land and thus readily accessible.”
According to the complaint, Clark urged the participants in encrypted chat rooms to attack specific targets and posted photos and maps of the New York City subway system, encouraging ISIS supporters to attack certain locations.
Clark posted a manual entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” which gave detailed instructions about constructing an explosive device.
In response to the arrest, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said that the fight against terrorism remains a top priority in the U.S.
“Today’s arrest in Brooklyn is a reminder that New York City remains a top terrorism target in the United States. The NYPD and all of our law enforcement partners remain vigilant in this ongoing fight against terror and anyone who would plot to do us harm,” he said.
It comes shortly after a report by the Global Terrorism Index ranked the United States as the 22nd worst impacted by terrorism countries in the world with the number of terror incidents rising from 49 to 57 in 2018.
Of the incidents, 28 were committed by radical [far-right] Islamists, 27 by unknown perpetrators, and two by jihadi inspired extremists, according to the report. The report explained that Western intelligence and security services have primarily focused on Islamist terror over the past two decades as opposed to right-wing groups.
The study did, however, note that the country has seen a 32 percent reduction in terrorism deaths in 2018.