HOUSTON – An 18-year-old U.S. citizen
from Houston has been charged with unlawfully distributing explosive making
instructions and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State of
Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez,
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and
Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office made
Authorities arrested Kaan Sercan
Damlarkaya late Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, upon the filing of a sealed criminal
complaint. It was unsealed this morning as he made his initial appearance
before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo, at which time he was temporarily
ordered into custody pending a detention hearing set for Dec. 14.
According to the charges, beginning in
or about early August 2017, Damlarkaya engaged in online communications with
undercover FBI agents and other sources. During those conversations, he
allegedly shared his intentions to travel overseas to fight for ISIS or, if
unable, to commit an attack in the United States. The charges also
indicate Damlarkaya asked if he could provide a farewell video to be published
should he follow through with an attack resulting in his death in order to
inspire others. Damlarkaya further provided instructions on how to build an
AK-47 or AR-15 assault rifle from readily available parts in order to avoid
detection from authorities, according to the criminal complaint.
Additionally, Damlarkaya provided a
formula to alleged ISIS supporters for the explosive, Triacetone Triperoxide
(TATP), and instructions on how to use TATP in a pressure cooker device that
contained shrapnel, according to the allegations. He also discussed the
use of a machete or Samurai sword as an alternative to a gun or
explosive. The criminal complaint further indicates he claimed to carry a
knife in the event he was stopped by law enforcement and that he slept with a
machete under his pillow in case his house was ever raided.
In early November 2017, according to
court documents, Damlarkaya explained “if I buy a gun or supplies for a bomb,
they [presumably law enforcement] will heat up pressure [j]ust like a few
months ago when I was trying an operation but they found out.” The
criminal complaint further alleges that Damlarkaya claims to have attempted to
get to Syria on two other occasions, but failed.
If convicted of unlawfully distributing
explosives information or attempting to provide material support to a
designated foreign terrorist organization, Damlarkaya faces a possible
20-year-maximum term of imprisonment. The maximum statutory sentence is
prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If
convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by
the court after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force
conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alamdar Hamdani and Rob
Jones of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case along with
Trial Attorneys Gregory Gonzalez and Kevin Nunnally of the Counterterrorism
Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.