An accused terrorist arrested last year in New York state has admitted plotting to kill Americans last New Year's Eve with knives and machetes, in an attack coordinated with the Islamic State group.
Emanuel Lutchman pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal court in Rochester, New York, and admitted his involvement in the IS plot, which never was carried out, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Lutchman thought he had recruited three fellow admirers of Islamic State's extremist policies to join him in the attack, and bought weapons and other supplies. However, all three of his accomplices were cooperating with the FBI, and their information led to the 26-year-old man's arrest December 30 — just hours before he planned to attack a club or bar, seize hostages and kill them.
Lutchman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to the outlawed terrorist group, a charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison — followed by lifetime supervision by U.S. authorities — and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for a later date.
As part of his guilty plea, Lutchman admitted he conspired with a now-dead member of Islamic State in Syria, Abu Issa Al-Amriki, in planning the attack. U.S. officials described the plot to kill civilians as a step toward Lutchman's declared ambition of joining IS in Syria.
Lutchman posted messages of support for Islamic State on social media, including images, videos and documents related to violent jihad. Court documents also showed he downloaded and viewed videos related to Islamic State and terrorism.
The defendant admitted he contacted Al-Amriki in December to discuss potential targets. Lutchman said the IS member told him to find the most populated area and kill as many people as possible, and said he would then help the American become part of Islamic State.
One of the FBI informants and Lutchman went shopping in Rochester on December 29 and purchased supplies for their intended attack, including black ski masks, knives, a machete, duct tape and latex gloves. Lutchman made a video pledging allegiance to IS the next day, apparently intended to be issued after carrying out his attack.
Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's terrorism task force in Rochester then raided Lutchman's home, arrested him and seized his supplies.
Previously published accounts describe Lutchman as "a self-professed Muslim convert with a criminal history," including a prison sentence for robbery. He also had been detained several times for mental-health issues.
The U.S. attorney for western New York state, William Hochul, said Thursday, "Residents of this community can now sleep better knowing that a person who wanted to kill in the name of an infamous terrorist group — right on the streets of our city — will no longer be a threat."