Wisconsin woman taught bomb-making online for Daesh

Waheba Issa Dais, above, provided instructions on making a poison called ricin through the hacked Facebook pages. (Reuters)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Wisconsin woman taught bomb-making online for Daesh

  • The woman provided her expertise on bombs and biological weapons
  • She faces a sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000

A Wisconsin woman used hacked Facebook accounts to provide lessons in making bombs and poison on behalf of the Daesh militant group, prosecutors said Monday.
Waheba Issa Dais, 46, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty to one count of “attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, a designated foreign terrorist organization,” the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a release.
Her support in 2018 took the form of providing expert advice on the Internet on bombs and biological weapons in order to help Daesh, officials said.
“Remember Boston Marathon bombing?” prosecutors said she posted to an undercover F.B.I. agent on Facebook. “It was very easy to make. All it needs is a pressure cooker, shrapnel and explosives. Join my channel and research.”
They said she also gave instructions on how to make the poison ricin, derived from castor beans.
US Attorney Matthew Krueger said in a statement that “From her home in Cudahy, Dais promoted ISIS’s hateful, violent agenda and provided detailed instructions on how to harm innocent people.”
Dais faces a sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, officials said, and is set to go before a judge in September for sentencing.
Her attorney, John Campion, told the New York Times that he and his client, “look forward to the September sentencing hearing where we will address the complicated history that led to her online conduct.”
Her attorney was not immediately available to Reuters early Tuesday.
In a separate case, prosecutors announced the conviction of Yosvany Padilla-Conde, a Cuban national who was residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for attempting to provide material support to Daesh.
In a release from the US Attorney’s Office, prosecutors said Padilla-Conde made videos swearing his allegiance to the group and stated his intent to travel to the Middle East. He also faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Craig Powell, an attorney for Padilla-Conde, told the Times that his client was set up by an undercover F.B.I. agent who offered to help him travel to Mexico if he made an Daesh video.
Padilla-Conde’s attorney could not immediately be reached by Reuters early Tuesday. His sentencing hearing is set for August, officials said.


Pakistani who taught ‘American Taliban’ hails his release

Updated 1 min 14 sec ago
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Pakistani who taught ‘American Taliban’ hails his release

  • John Walker Lindh symbolized betrayal for the US when he was captured, bearded and disheveled, while fighting for the Taliban in 2001
  • He was one of hundreds of Taliban fighters captured by Northern Alliance forces on November 25, 2001
ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani religious teacher who spent six months with “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh has hailed his release, describing him as a “good person” who became upset over the situation in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine.
Lindh symbolized betrayal for the US when he was captured, bearded and disheveled, while fighting for the Taliban in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2001.
His release from prison on Thursday — three years before the end of his 20-year sentence — has re-awakened memories of the September 11 attacks and underscored the tragedy of the US invasion of Afghanistan, where civilians are paying a deadly price as the war grinds on.
President Donald Trump said he was upset about the release, but government lawyers had told him there was no legal way to keep him in prison.
“We’ll be watching him and watching him closely,” Trump told reporters.
But Mohammad Iltimas, who taught Lindh for six months at a Muslim school near the Afghan border in Pakistan’s northwest, said he was happy to hear of the decision to release him.
“He was such a pure person, such a positive-thinking man,” Iltimas told AFP.
Iltimas said Lindh came to his school — the Madrassa Arabia Hussania, outside the city of Bannu — in December 2000, and stayed until May or April of the next year.
“He wanted to memorize the Qur’an,” he said, describing how Lindh could often be seen listening to Qur’anic verses on a tape recorder or learning Pashto.
“He was such a good student, pious and focused on his studies, I never saw him sitting idle. He was not interested in sports. He was such a serious and committed person to his cause.”
Lindh was “upset over the situation in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine,” said Iltimas.
At the time, the Taliban regime which controlled most of Afghanistan was engaged in a bloody fight with the rebellious Northern Alliance.
Soon the madrassa student enlisted in the Taliban’s ranks.
After the United States intervened in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Lindh was one of hundreds of Taliban fighters captured by Northern Alliance forces on November 25.
He revealed his American identity to two CIA officers in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
One of them, Johnny Micheal Spann, was killed in a prisoner revolt hours after he interrogated Lindh, making him the first American killed in post-9/11 conflict in Afghanistan.
Mazar residents who remembered Lindh described to AFP their shock on hearing that an American had been captured fighting for the Islamist militants.
“People were asking how is that possible,” recalled 40-year-old resident Khayber Ibrahimi.
“I think he must have been too brave or too stupid to have gone with the Taliban,” he told AFP.
In July 2002 plea deal, Lindh admitted charges of illegally aiding the Taliban and carrying weapons and explosives.
By most accounts, he clung firmly to his faith throughout his imprisonment.
An internal 2017 report from the US National Counterterrorism Center, obtained by the Foreign Policy website, said that Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”
The claim was not supported by public evidence.
Iltimas told AFP that Lindh had written him from prison, although AFP was unable to immediately verify the claim.
When Lindh left for Afghanistan, Iltimas said, he left some of his possessions behind at the madrassa, claiming he would return.
“I still have that stuff — his briefcase, books, shoes, clothes, notebooks,” Iltimas told AFP.
“People at the time used to ask me if I had changed him into a jihadi,” he said.
“I always replied to them that I turned him to education, and changed him as a scholar.”
Now 38, Lindh will settle in Virginia under strict probation terms that limit his ability to go online or contact any other Islamists.
In Afghanistan, where he was captured, the Taliban are once again resurgent, Afghan civilians desperate for peace, and the US eager to escape what has become the longest war in its history.