The New York man who is accused of planning to carry out a New Year’s Eve attack on a Rochester bar on behalf of the Islamic State terror group has had psychiatric problems since childhood, according to his family.
Federal authorities said Emanuel Lutchman, 25, had also been in trouble with the law since 2006 and converted to Islam while serving a five-year sentence for robbery.
Lutchman was charged with attempting to provide material support to IS. The FBI said he had pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and wanted to leave the United States to live in the IS caliphate.
"The boy is impressionable,'' his father, Omar Lutchman, told NBC News. "First he was a Blood, then he was a Crip" — references to street gangs — "then he became a Muslim. He's easily manipulated.'"
The father and the suspect's grandmother, Beverley Carridice, told the network that Lutchman is married and has a 2-year-old son but has been having marital problems.
'We gotta do this'
Lutchman had a contact overseas who urged him to show his support for IS, according to court papers filed Thursday. The contact told him to plan an “operation” on New Year’s Eve to kill “1,000,000s of kuffar [nonbelievers].”
Court records said Lutchman armed himself with knives, a machete, duct tape, zip ties and ski masks. On a drive with an informer, Lutchman pointed out a restaurant/bar in Rochester that he later confirmed would be his target.
“It’s going to get real after this. It’s just you, me and the Lord. We gotta do this; we gotta do this precise. If we grab somebody, they can't live,” Lutchman is quoted in the criminal complaint as saying to the informant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Carlin confirmed the alleged plan was to have been executed later Thursday, but said, “Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene and thwart Lutchman's deadly plans."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement, “The arrest of Emanuel Lutchman is an important reminder of the new normal of global terrorism.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's top agent in western New York state, Adam Cohen, said that while the alleged New Year's Eve plot was thwarted, the bureau "remains concerned about people overseas who use the Internet to inspire people in the United States to commit acts of violence where they live.”
News of the arrest followed reports from around the world that security precautions were tightened in many cities to protect New Year's celebrations. Rochester, which is in upstate New York, canceled its planned New Year's Eve fireworks celebration.