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Case Name United States v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab NS-IL-0003
Docket / Court 1:16-cr-00181 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Criminal cases challenging FISA surveillance
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)
Case Summary
This is the eighth time the Justice Department has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a FISA warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected at some point to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional. (As explained below, ... read more >
This is the eighth time the Justice Department has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a FISA warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected at some point to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional. (As explained below, however, this case was resolved by guilty plea and will not be that test case.) All the cases are available in the Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704) special collection.

On January 7, 2016, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab was charged in a criminal complaint that was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California following his arrest. He was arrested on a federal charge of making a false statement involving international terrorism. He pleaded not guilty to that charge. The court (Judge Sara Ellis) ordered Al-Jayab be held without bail, citing he was a flight risk and danger to the community.

In early March, the FBI requested and was granted access to Al-Jayab’s two cellphones, an iPhone 6S and a Samsung Galaxy S5. FBI agents were reportedly able to bypass the Samsung Galaxy’s security and gain access to multiple Facebook accounts operated by Al-Jayab.

On March 17, 2016, Al-Jayab was indicted by a grand jury in Sacramento in the Northern District of Illinois for attempting to provide material support to acts of violence overseas. The indictment contended that Al-Jayab gave false statements to agents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during an interview on October 6, 2014. In the interview, Al-Jayab indicated that he never supported terrorist groups and that the purpose of his trip to Turkey was to visit his grandmother. The California indictment contended that both statements were false.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of California, Al-Jayab is a Palestinian born in Iraq, who came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee in October 2012. Between October 2012 and November 2013, while living in Arizona and Wisconsin, Al-Jayab communicated via social media with numerous individuals about his intention to go to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations. The complaint further alleged that on November 9, 2013, he flew from Chicago to Turkey and then traveled to Syria.

According to the complaint, between November 2013 and January 2014, Al-Jayab reported on social media that he was in Syria fighting with terrorist organizations. Al-Jayab returned to the United States on January 23, 2014, and settled in Sacramento. In 2013, Al-Jayab communicated over social media with fellow U.S.-based Iraqi refugee Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan. Al-Jayab spoke to Al Hardan about weapons training, and the two discussed travel to Syria. Al-Jayab bragged about his experience fighting in Syria and promised to teach Al Hardan how to enter Syria and fight with weaponry. Al Hardan was arrested on January 8, 2016.

On April 8, 2016, the U.S. notified the court and defendant, pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 1825(d) and 1881e(a) that it intended to use information "obtained or derived from" physical searches and "acquisitions acquired pursuant to" Section 702. The defendant's lawyer responded in the press that the defendant would ask the court to suppress the evidence, as unconstitutionally derived.

On July 22, 2016, the defendant filed a petition for court appointed counsel, and the court stated that this case was sufficiently complex as to warrant appointment of two attorneys to represent him.

On August 11, 2016, the defendant's attorney informed the court that he has been contacted by a Swiss journalist asking about Al-Jayab’s alleged role in an ISIS plot in Bern, Switzerland. On March 30, 2017, the government provided Swiss documents to the defendant.

On January 16, 2018, the defendant filed a petition to dismiss the indictment based on combatant immunity. The defendant’s attorneys submitted that the doctrine of combatant immunity precludes the domestic prosecution of a lawful combatant who attempted to, or engaged in, recognized hostilities. It was further argued that should the allegations in the indictment be true for the purposes of the motion, the alleged conduct is privileged because the defendant was a protected, lawful combatant as recognized by long-standing common law principles. Moreover, the defendant’s conduct was privileged under international law because the Syrian War was an international armed conflict, or more specifically an internationalized armed conflict, and the defendant was associated with Syrian opposition groups that qualify for combatant immunity under international law.

On June 28, 2018, United States District Judge Sara L. Ellis granted in part the Government’s motion for a protective order under Section 4 of CIPA. The Court also granted in part and denied in part Al-Jayab’s motion for notice of surveillance techniques used during the course of the investigation. The Court held that the Government must provide Al-Jayab with an affidavit in compliance with 18 U.S.C. § 3504. The Court denied Al-Jayab's motion (1) to suppress evidence obtained or derived from warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act; (2) for disclosure to cleared counsel and objection to secret ex parte ClPA litigation of Fourth Amendment suppression issue, (3) for discovery regarding the intelligence agencies’ surveillance pursuant to Executive Order 12333, (4) to suppress evidence obtained or derived from the physical surveillance conducted pursuant to FISA, and (5) for disclosure of the underlying FISA and § 702 materials. The redacted version of the opinion and order was made public on August 2, 2018.

On October 29, 2018, a Superseding Information was filed by the United States Attorney. In this filing, it was stated that in February 2003, the US Secretary of Treasury designated Ansar Al-Islam was a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224, and in March 2004, the US Secretary of State designated Ansar Al-Islam as a foreign terrorist organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The filing further stated that between October 2012 and January 2014, the defendant knowingly provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization (Ansar Al-Islam), knowing that the organization was a designated foreign terrorist organization, and that the organization had engaged in, and was engaging in, terrorist activity and terrorism in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 23398B.

On October 31, 2018, the defendant withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty to the Superseding Information. The defendant voluntarily pled guilty to knowingly providing material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, and knowingly providing a materially false statement to federal agents in a matter involving international terrorism. The defendant waived in open court prosecution by indictment, and consented to proceeding by information rather than by indictment. A plea agreement was entered into on November 2, 2018. It was agreed that the maximum term of imprisonment for both charges were to be 15 years.

On October 31, 2019, Judge Ellis issued a final judgment on the case. She sentenced the defendant to 5 years in prison and 20 years of parole. The case is now closed.

Ginny Lee - 03/27/2017
Dawn Lui - 11/02/2018
Ellen Aldin - 06/19/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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International law
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Causes of Action FISA Title VII targeting order (Sections 702, 703, 704), 50 U.S.C. 1881a, 1881b, 1881c
Defendant(s) Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab
Plaintiff Description United States of America
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Criminal Conviction
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Filed 03/17/2016
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ill.
NS-IL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Cal.
Criminal Complaint
NS-IL-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement
not recorded
Press Report
NS-IL-0003-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
N.D. Ill.
Indictment [ECF# 1]
NS-IL-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Notice of Intent to Use Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Information [ECF# 14]
NS-IL-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Opinion and Order [ECF# 115]
NS-IL-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Plea Agreement [ECF# 129]
NS-IL-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Judgment in a Criminal Case [ECF# 154]
NS-IL-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Brennan, Edmund F. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Ellis, Sara Lee (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
NS-IL-0003-0005 | NS-IL-0003-0007 | NS-IL-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Jonas, Barry (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-IL-0003-0004 | NS-IL-0003-0006 | NS-IL-0003-9000
Lausch, John R. (Illinois) show/hide docs
Pillay, Shoba (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-IL-0003-0004 | NS-IL-0003-0006 | NS-IL-0003-9000
Scott, McGregor W. (California) show/hide docs
Thomas, Jill M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Durkin, Anthony Matthew (Illinois) show/hide docs
Durkin, Thomas Anthony (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-IL-0003-0006 | NS-IL-0003-9000
Herman, Joshua G. (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-IL-0003-0006 | NS-IL-0003-9000
Waters, Robin Valentine (Illinois) show/hide docs

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