Americans Providing Material Support to the Enemy

Like Al-Qaeda before it, the terrorist organization ISIS is now a term most Americans recognize immediately. And along with this recognition, comes a deep a fear and a strong desire to erode the enemy by any means necessary.

What is unexpected to most Americans, united in the goal to end terrorist organizations from threatening our national safety, are the surprising reports that members of these terror groups live amongst us in the United States. CBS News is reporting that a 19-year-old man, who supported ISISs efforts against the United States, was arrested and charged with a federal terrorism-related offense near his hometown of Chicago.

According to an affidavit in support of the criminal charges against Mohammed Hamzah Khan, police arrested Khan at OHare International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Vienna.  Khan intended to fly from Vienna to Turkey, and then to somehow enter Syria or Iraq in order to fight for ISIS.

Khan is being charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He appeared in federal court Monday and will remain in custody until his detention hearing later this week.

Homegrown terrorists

What is a designated foreign terrorist organization?

Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1) makes it a federal crime for anyone to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. But how does one know which terror groups have been deemed terrorist organizations by the U.S.? And who designates organization as such?

Foreign Terrorist Organizations are non-United Stated based organizations judged by the United States Secretary of State to be involved in terrorism as defined by the U.S. Code. It must be a foreign organization that engages in terrorist activities, and those activities must somehow threaten the security of U.S. nationals or U.S. national security. As of late, many of these designated organizations are Islamic extremist groups like ISIS.

The Secretary of State is tasked with officially designating foreign terrorist organizations for our country. Under the federal procedure, the Secretary must give Congress notice of his or her decision, and an organization may challenge or appeal the Secretarys decision.

How is Section 2339B actually violated?

In what type of activity must an individual engage in order to violate Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1) and officially provide material support to a terror group? The Code includes providing  training, expert advice and assistance, services, and personnel as activities that constitute providing material support to a terror organization.

The “material support requirement has been criticized by some scholars as violating the First Amendments protection of association and free speech in this country. They claim the term “material support is too broad and vague making activities like writing in support of a foreign political or religious group or donating money to such a group a crime. However, in 2010, the United States Supreme Court in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, held that the statutes prohibition against activities like providing expert advice and assistance were not vague and did not violate the free speech and association rights of citizens. Thus, the statute survived and is fully enforceable today.

Being charged with a federal crime is a very serious matter.  Often times, federal charges are appealed. At Brownstone Law, our attorneys are experienced in the appellate process. Please contact us today with any questions you may have.

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