A man from the mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Maryland is being detained on federal charges in connection with a plot to attack a member of the U.S. military on behalf of the Islamic State group.
Federal prosecutors say Nelash Mohamed Das was poised to carry out the attack, which was set up by a confidential informant for the FBI, when he was arrested Friday.
The informant told Das he had received information about the target from an IS contact in Iraq. Das allegedly said he wanted to participate in the attack and had ammunition with him.
Court documents say Das believed the informant's contact in Iraq would pay $80,000 for the attack.
Although Das was set up by the informant, it does not appear his constitutional rights were violated, according to Western Illinois University domestic terrorism expert Dean Alexander. "There doesn't appear to be any violation of constitutional rights, at least from what we can tell at this point in the criminal complaint."
Das was arrested after loading a gun and traveling with the informant to a location where he believed the attack would occur, according to court documents.
The informant's collaboration with Das does not constitute entrapment, said Alexander, nor has entrapment been an issue in many prosecutions of domestic terrorism since the attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
"About 50 percent or more have used undercover agents or informants, and so far the entrapment defense has not been effective in any of those instances," he said.
FBI Director James Comey predicted before a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing last week that the successful military campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq would result in a "terrorist diaspora" within the next two to five years.
"We must prepare ourselves and our allies, particularly in western Europe, to confront that threat because when ISIL is reduced to an insurgency and those killers flow out, they will try to come to western Europe and try to come here to kill innocent people," Comey said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
For now at least, the major terrorist threats on U.S. soil do not come from refugees, Alexander said. "The vast majority of them are U.S. citizens, born or naturalized."
Alexander adds that 75 to 80 percent of suspected terrorists in the United States are citizens, and 30 to 40 percent of all IS-related prosecutions are "converts who became radicalized."
Last year, the FBI said it was leading more than 900 investigations of suspected IS operatives, recruits or those inspired by the terrorist group.
Das, who is originally from Bangladesh, has been charged with trying to provide material support and resources to IS. He will be detained until a court hearing Thursday. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.