NEW YORK–Federal authorities arrested a Brooklyn man Wednesday with allegedly attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and distributing bomb-making instructions, according to the Department of Justice.
Zachary Clark, 40, faced Magistrate Judge Robert Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court later that day.The criminal complaint was filed on Nov. 25 in Manhattan federal court.
Clark pledged allegiance to ISIS twice, first in or about July 2019, to its then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and then in or about October 2019, to ISIS’s new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Sashemi al-Qurayshi, who was elevated after al-Baghdadi’s death. Beginning in at least March 2019, Clark disseminated ISIS propaganda through, among other avenues, encrypted chatrooms intended for members, associates, supporters, and potential recruits of ISIS. His propaganda included, among other things, calls for ISIS supporters to commit lone wolf attacks in New York City. For example, on or about Aug. 3, 2019, Clark posted instructions about how to conduct such an attack, including directions on how to select an attack target, how to conduct pre-operational surveillance, how to conduct operational planning, and how to avoid attracting law enforcement attention when preparing for and conducting the attack. On another occasion, Clark posted a manual entitled “Knife Attacks,” which stated, among other things, that discomfort at “the thought of plunging a sharp object into another person’s flesh” is “never an excuse for abandoning jihad” and 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.” Clark urged the participants in encrypted chatrooms to attack specific targets, posting maps and images of the New York City subway system and encouraging ISIS supporters to attack those locations. Clark’s guidance also included posting a manual entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” which included detailed instructions about constructing an explosive device.
“The defendant allegedly provided instructions for how to plan attacks on U.S. soil, encouraging ISIS supporters to attack in well-populated locations,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “The National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding accountable those who support foreign terrorist organizations and pose a threat to our communities.”
“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. 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,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman for the Southern District of New York.
Clark is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.