Aug. 11 (UPI) — A Brooklyn man who twice pledged allegiance to the Islamic State admitted in a Manhattan federal courtroom that he distributed bomb-making instructions online and encouraged supporters of the militant group to commit terrorist attacks in New York City.
Zachary Clark, 41, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the Justice Department announced in a press release.
“As he admitted in court today, Zachary Clark pledged allegiance to [IS] and posted calls for attacks on the public and institutions in New York on encrypted pro-[IS] chatrooms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York. “He also posted detailed instructions for carrying out those violent acts.”
Clark was arrested in late November, and charged with disseminating IS propaganda and encouraging supporters of the militant group designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization to commit lone-wolf attacks in New York City since at least March 2019.
According to the complaint, Clark attempted to coerce supporters of the group to commit the attacks and distributed IS propaganda through three encrypted chatrooms.
In early August of last year, Clark invited an undercover agent to one of the pro-IS chatrooms where he had posted detailed instructions on how to carry out lone-wolf attacks, including how to select a target, how to conduct pre-operational surveillance and how to avoid attracting law enforcement attention, among other information.
In a second chatroom, which had 194 subscribers, that Clark owned, he had posted an image of the New York subway system and pages of a book titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” the complaint states.
And in the third chatroom, he had posted a manual on conducting knife attacks.
“Clark championed his support for [IS], disseminated hate-filled messages via encrypted chatrooms and encouraged like-minded individuals to carry out vicious attacks in the name of jihad,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr., said in November following Clark’s arrest.
The Justice Department said that Clark pledged allegiance to IS twice: once in July 2019 to its then-leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and then in October that same year but to its new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Sashemi al-Qurayshi, who was promoted to the position following al-Baghdadi’s death.
“We must remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism,” John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said Monday in a statement. “We must remain committed to identifying and holding accountable those who threaten our communities because of their support for foreign terrorist organizations.”
Clark is to be sentenced Feb. 9, the release said.