A Maryland man has been charged with plotting to kill a U.S. service member on behalf of ISIS, officials said.
Nelash Mohamed Das, 24, has been charged with attempting provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), a foreign terrorist organization, in connection with a plan to attack a U.S. military member, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.
Authorities say Das is a citizen of Bangladesh who came to the United States in 1995 when he was four years old. He became a legal permanent resident and was living in Hyattsville, Maryland.
"The danger posed by Mr. Das during this investigation was very real. He was committed to carrying out an attack against a military member," said Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI's Baltimore Division. "Through our proactive investigative stance, we were able to ensure the citizens of Maryland were protected. The covert nature of the defendant's alleged actions is a stark reminder of the challenges we face in preventing attacks, and underscores the critical need for those with knowledge about terror plots to come forward."
According to court documents, Das had expressed his support for ISIS and the terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, California on social media from Sept. 28, 2015 to early 2016.
Das met with a person believed to be a supporter of ISIS in May, but was actually a confidential source working for the FBI, documents say. Das told the source he knew and communicated with people overseas who were part of ISIS.
In July, Das told the FBI source that he wanted to kill a U.S. service member living in Prince George's County in Maryland and obtained information the previous year from a list posted online by ISIS. He also told the source he could acquire a firearm and wanted to travel overseas for ISIS if he had the opportunity.
According to records obtained by authorities, Das took a handgun licensing class at a firing range throughout the summer of 2016 and submitted his fingerprints with Maryland State Police to obtain a handgun permit.
After several meetings with the FBI informant, Das said that he was looking for names of potential targets for them to kill while using guns acquired by the informant.
On Sept. 11, Das met with the FBI source and confirmed to him that he was 100 percent committed to conducting an attack, saying, "That's like my goal in life." The following day, Das said he wanted to be paid by ISIS for future killings, but was willing to do it for free also. He also confirmed he specifically wanted to target U.S. military personnel.
On Sept. 28, Das and the confidential FBI informant drove to a firearms store in Virginia and purchased ammunition. At Das' request, the source provided information of a target believed to be a member of a U.S. service member, but was actually false information provided by the FBI. Das also believed the information came from ISIS and he would be paid $80,000 for conducting the attack. After buying the ammunition, Das and the source traveled to a location in Maryland of the supposed military member to conduct surveillance.
Two days later, the confidential source picked up Das to travel to the location of the target in order to conduct the attack. After driving to the location, FBI agents were waiting to arrest Das.
"Our goal is to catch dangerous suspects before they strike, while respecting constitutional rights," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "That is what the American people expect of the Justice Department, and that is what we aim to deliver."
Das faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, prosecutors say.