Thursday, November 08, 2007

Know your Enemy on Domestic Terrorism. Pennsylvania citizen convicted of attemting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda to 30 years imprisonment.

Martin C. Carlson, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and J P Weis, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that Michael Curtis Reynolds, age 49, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to a 30-year term of imprisonment for attempting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda and related charges. On July 13, 2007, a federal jury returned the guilty verdicts on the charges after about an hour of deliberation.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Carlson, the evidence at trial established that starting in October 2005, Michael Curtis Reynolds began an attempt to aid a foreign terrorist organization--Al-Qaeda. Reynolds' plan was to help Al-Qaeda units that he believed existed in Canada and this country to make an attempt to destroy fuel pipelines servicing the United States. He was motivated to solicit and assist in this proposed attack because he disagreed with war in Iraq, was angered by the revocation of his passport while he was in Thailand, and by his own personal greed.

Fortunately Reynolds' plan was reported to the FBI just as it was beginning. From that point, a cooperating witness and later an FBI Special Agent posing as an Al-Qaeda terrorist communicated with Reynolds over the Internet about his scheme. Posing as that terrorist, for approximately a month they discussed with Reynolds his targets and other details of his plan. This communication over the Internet involved more than 50 messages and lasted until December 5, 2005, when FBI Special Agents arrested Reynolds at a desolate rest stop near Pocatello, Idaho, commonly known in the area as Hell's Half Acre. Reynolds was arrested when he arrived to pick up what he believed would be $40,000, which was partial payment for his services and future services to the Al-Qaeda terrorists. The evidence at trial also established that Reynolds possessed an unregistered grenade within his storage locker in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Reynolds was convicted of attempting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization; attempting to provide material support and resources to be used in maliciously damaging or destroying property by means of force or explosive; soliciting others to engage in a felony using physical force against property; distributing over the Internet information to be used in furtherance of a crime of violence; and possession of an unregistered grenade. The jury acquitted him of another unregistered-grenade charge.

Mr. Carlson stated, “Since September 11, 2001, the first priority of all law enforcement agencies has been to prevent future acts of terror in our homeland. Today’s sentencing constitutes a triumph of the rule of law over those who would use terror against this nation. Because of the astute work of the FBI, and the hard work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Gurganus, a plot by a would-be Al-Qaeda sympathizer was uncovered, and successfully prosecuted. Today’s sentence sends a clear message: Individuals such as Reynolds, who operate outside the law to impose terror represent a threat to our safety. Such would-be terrorists will be dealt with severely under our system of laws. I commend the FBI and everyone involved in the prosecution of this case for bringing him to justice.”

Reynolds is presently imprisoned at the Lackawanna County Jail in Scranton, Pennsylvania, pending his designation to a federal correctional facility by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus.

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