At a Glance | January 8

Tip from Family About Possible Radicalization Leads to Arrest 2 Years Later

An Islamic convert whose family told authorities nearly two years ago that he may have been radicalized was denied bail on January 2, accused of obstructing justice by destroying evidence in a terrorism investigation. Sean Duncan, 21, faces up to 20 years in prison, and other charges are possible in what prosecutors acknowledged was an ISIS-related investigation. The FBI arrested Duncan on December 29 when he bolted from his home in Sterling, Virginia, after agents arrived to conduct a search. Duncan tossed a plastic bag that contained “a thumb drive that had been snapped into pieces, and placed in a liquid substance that produced frothy white bubbles,” according to an FBI affidavit. Duncan had been under FBI scrutiny since February 2016, when he was living near Pittsburgh, following the tip from relatives, the affidavit said. Duncan and his wife flew that month to Turkey, with a connecting flight to Bangladesh. But Turkish authorities denied the couple entry into the country, and they were sent back. Duncan’s name, rendered as “Sean Ibn Gary Duncan,” appeared on a list of people who contacted an ISIS recruiter, the affidavit said. The FBI said an examination of Duncan’s phone in June 2017 found searches on ISIS, weapons, body armor and hidden cameras

Terrorism Charge Added Against Missouri Man Who Pulled Emergency Brake on Train

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The armed man arrested in October for pulling the emergency brake on an Amtrak train now also faces a terrorism charge, according to court papers unsealed January 3. Taylor Michael Wilson (photo, right), had links to “alt-right Neo Nazi” groups, kept over a dozen  firearms at his home in Missouri, and wrote that he wanted to “kill black people” during recent protests in St. Louis, according to the FBI. Wilson, 26, entered a secure area of the train October 22 and brought it to a halt in Nebraska. No injuries were reported. He had a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his waistband, an ammunition cartridge in his pocket, and more ammunition, a knife, a hammer and a respirator mask in a backpack, as well as a business card for the National Socialist Movement, police said. He was released on bail, but was re-arrested December 23 after he was charged with terrorism against railroad carriers and against mass transportation systems in federal court. A cousin told investigators that Wilson accompanied a neo-Nazi group to the “Unite the Right” protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

Review of Federal ISIS Cases Finds Suspects Have Little in Common

ISIS-inspired attacks, as well as the number of people arrested for them in the United States, fell sharply as the group lost nearly all its territory last year, according to a review of 152 federal cases from 2014 to 2017 by USA Today. Court documents and two studies on terrorism by New America, a non-profit think tank, and Charles Kurzman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found double the number of cases in 2015 when compared with 2017. Of the 152 cases, 55 involved a plot in the United States, of which 40 were thwarted. The review, published January 4, characterized 60 percent of the suspects as lone wolves. The suspects comprised a wide range of ages, and were both religious and secular. All were legal US residents, and most were born and raised in America. The newspaper cautioned that the data reflect only a sample of 152 cases and do not represent all terrorism cases.

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