Trevor William Forrest a.k.a Shaikh Abdullah Faisal or Shaikh Faisal, age 59, has been convicted for using his public profile and personal network to recruit and provide support for the Islamic State’s acts of violence and terrorism against others. This all-count conviction comes after the first-ever New York State terrorism trial.
On January 26, a New York State Supreme Court jury found Faisal guilty of Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism in the First Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism in the First Degree, Attempted Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism in the First Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree as a Crime of Terrorism and Attempted Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism. He will be sentenced on February 9.
As proven at trial, Faisal provided material support to the Islamic State, through:
- violent jihadist advocacy and ISIS recruitment through different writings, speeches and recordings
- tradecraft instructions to others on how best to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and how best to avoid suspicion or arrest
- providing contact information of foreign fighters to facilitate entry into and support in ISIS regions and acceptance by ISIS partners
- strategizing with Islamic State fighters on battlefield tactics
- creating opportunities for women jihadi aspirants to meet and marry ISIS adherents
- inspiring others to commit their own violent acts in allegiance to ISIS
The case was the result of a joint investigation by the NYPD Intelligence Bureau and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Counter Terrorism Program, which was created in June 2015 to identify and pursue investigative leads related to terror plots, extremist activities, and terror-financing.
“This case was about the far reach of crimes committed by Shaikh Faisal and the promotion of terrorism. Faisal aided ISIS as it committed horrific violence against innocent people,” said District Attorney Bragg. “I am proud of the work our prosecutors and analysts have done in collaboration with NYPD to ensure we stay ahead of these threats and ensure greater safety and security for all. We will continue to use the full force of our Counter Terrorism Program.”
“This defendant threatened the safety of thousands by providing material support for an international terrorist organization,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “Identifying and stopping individuals like this before they can harm the United States and our people are the ideals upon which our Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureaus were established. I commend and thank the investigators from the NYPD, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and all of our partner agencies for their tireless work on this important case.”
Beginning in November 2016, Faisal and an undercover NYPD officer based in New York began communicating remotely while the defendant was living in St. James, Jamaica. Ultimately, Faisal provided the undercover officer with contact information for an individual based in Raqqa, Syria. In early 2017, that individual contacted the undercover officer and began collecting information about this person’s location and whereabouts in order to facilitate entry into the Islamic State.
Over emails, text messages, and video chats, Faisal encouraged the undercover officer to view his lectures online and sent propagandist reports from an official Islamic State news outlet. After their initial exchanges, the defendant offered to help the undercover officer leave the U.S. and travel to the Middle East to support foreign fighters abroad. Faisal also offered to connect this individual with his contacts in ISIS, cautioning and coaching the undercover officer to be careful as to what she said to whom, including using coded language and using an encrypted chat tool while communicating with Faisal and his associates.
When the undercover officer informed Faisal that she was certified to perform first aid and CPR and wanted to go overseas to provide aid to ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, Faisal then suggested that the undercover officer marry someone in the Islamic State to enable travel abroad. He offered to broker the arrangement.
Members of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, along with the undercover officer, traveled to the Middle East in 2017 and were given information from Faisal on how to contact that person in the Islamic State.
Since 2014, Faisal has publicly supported the Islamic State and called for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and encouraged violent acts through numerous online lectures and militant propaganda in support of the terror organization. Faisal, one of the world’s most influential English-speaking terrorists, was previously convicted in the U.K. of crimes related to inciting murder and using racially charged, hateful rhetoric in furtherance of terrorist ideologies.
Assistant District Attorneys Gary J. Galperin (Senior Investigative Counsel), David Stuart (Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator) and Kenneth N. Moore, Jr., are handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Michael Ohm (Deputy Bureau Chief of the Rackets Bureau), Judy Salwen (Principal Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau), Jodie Kane (Chief of the Rackets Bureau) and Executive Assistant District Attorneys Christopher Conroy (Senior Advisor to the Investigation Division) and Susan Hoffinger (Chief of the Investigation Division).
District Attorney Bragg also thanked former Chief of Investigations Michael Sachs, Senior Investigator Michael O’Brien, Deputy Chief Investigator Michael Wigdor, Chief Investigator Walter Alexander, Director of Intelligence and Analysis for Counterterrorism Ryan Rittenberg, Senior Counterterrorism Analyst Catherine Schreck, Cardozo Law School Intern Olivia Corn, Data Specialist Olivia Savell, Supervising Computer Forensic Analyst Douglas Daus, under the supervision of Steven Moran, Director of the High Tech Analysis Unit, former Deputy Chief of Intelligence Kevin Branzetti, former Supervising Counterterrorism Analyst Andrea Mufarreh, former Counterterrorism Analyst Dana Simcox, and former Deputy Director of the High Tech Analysis Unit David Chan.
District Attorney Bragg thanked the following individuals and agencies for their assistance with the investigation: the NYPD, and in particular, Chief of Intelligence and Counterterrorism Thomas Galati, Assistant Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism Rebecca Weiner, Chief of Intelligence John Hart, Chief Paul Ciorra, Chief Roberto Rios, Inspector Joseph Seminara, former Inspector Paul Mauro, Captain Rob Bava, Captain Steve Beatty, Former Director Ravi Satkalmi, Sergeant Sherif Moussa, Sergeant Mourad Mourad, former Detective Ilter Aykac, former Lieutenant Kevin Young, former Intelligence Research Specialists Krisztina Johnson and Jacques Singer-Emery; the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, the United States Marshal Service in particular, Assistant Director for Investigations Henry Geberth; and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, in particular, then Detective Sergeant Ronald Walker, currently of the USMS, and all the undercover officers involved in this investigation.
District Attorney Bragg also thanked former Assistant District Attorney Deborah Hickey and former NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.
Read the announcement at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office