FBI Raids Virginia Home of ISIS Supporter
The FBI on Friday night raided the Sterling, Virginia, home of a Muslim convert, Sean Andrew Duncan, who, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, stated that he attempted to join ISIS in Syria and shared bomb-making instructions with a woman currently in international custody.
Sterling, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C., is home to a large Muslim community. According to an Instagram post by Duncan, he converted to Islam at age 17 and moved to the area from Pittsburgh this past June.
When reports emerged Friday night that an FBI raid was ongoing, there was no indication that it might be terror-related.
But yesterday, after charges were filed against Duncan for obstructing the FBI's investigation, the affidavit in the case was made public. It lays out the details of Duncan's support for ISIS.
According to the affidavit, Duncan and his wife tried to travel to Turkey in February 2016. They were denied entry and sent back to the U.S. at which point the husband was interviewed by the FBI.
One of Duncan's relatives reported that he may have been radicalized and that he openly stated his approval of Westerners being beheaded by ISIS.
Earlier this month, the FBI discovered a Twitter account registered to Duncan using the handle "@DawlahtulIslaam," which translated means "the Islamic State."
Back in July, one of Duncan's associates was arrested overseas for planning to join ISIS; at that time she provided information on Duncan.
According to the FBI, this associate said that Duncan was one of her U.S.-based contacts and that she talked to him through encrypted mobile messaging applications. She stated that Duncan expressed a desire to join ISIS, wanted to conduct terror attacks inside the U.S., and provided her with information on building a bomb. The article on bomb-making, "How to build a bomb in your mother's kitchen," was published in the English-language Inspire magazine issued by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Duncan, according to his arrested associate, shared ISIS-related material with her and expressed his support for a statement by an ISIS spokesman calling for Muslims to conduct terror attacks in their own homelands.
Additionally, this past August an ISIS recruiter who had Duncan's contact information was arrested overseas.
In June, the FBI obtained a copy of Duncan's cell phone records from a local police agency in Pennsylvania. They discovered that he had made numerous internet searches for ISIS material, information on ISIS terror attacks, and weapons and body armor.
Internet searches from this past April revealed he was looking for an AR-15 rifle, a TAC 19 pistol, and assorted weapons-related gear. He was also watching YouTube videos on reinforcing doors with barricades.
According to the FBI, these searches are "indicative of an individual planning and researching how to conduct an attack and defend himself from bodily harm."
A federal judge authorized a search of Duncan's home on December 19 to look for further evidence of his support for ISIS.
When the warrant was executed on Friday, Duncan attempted to flee from the scene while carrying a bag with a thumb drive that had been snapped into pieces.
The FBI affidavit claims that he tried to destroy the memory card from the thumb drive in order to prevent the FBI from searching it, thereby obstructing their investigation.
It appears that Duncan moved to Virginia to be associated with an Arabic-language program based in Sterling called the Fawakih Institute. He had given testimonials about the program and had conducted online fundraising to participate in the institute's programs. One of the Fawakih program's advisors is Mohamed Magid, one of the Obama administration's top Islamic advisers and the imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling.