FBI Arrests Rochester Man for New Year’s Eve Terror Plot

FBI Arrests Rochester Man for New Year’s Eve Terror Plot

Overview

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Officials say a Rochester bar is believed to have been the target of a New Years Eve terror plot.

Emanuel Lutchman, a Rochester man, is accused of planning the New Year’s Eve attack at Merchants Grill in Rochester to prove to the Islamic State Group he was worthy to join it in Syria.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Lutchman, 25, was arrested Wednesday for attempting to provide material support to the overseas terrorist group known as ISIL. Lutchman appeared in federal court Thursday morning.

Court records state that Lutchman claimed to receive direction from ISIL. According to the owner of Merchants Grill, Lutchman allegedly chose to target the bar and restaurant on New Years Eve. The owner described Lutchman as a panhandler who’d been asked to leave the tavern in the past.

Prosecutors say the ex-convict was snared in an FBI sting. The FBI stated Lutchman had an ‘accomplice’ who was actually working for the agency.

The complaint states Lutchman went to the Hudson Avenue Walmart on Tuesday and purchased ski masks, two knives, a machete, ammonia, duct tape and latex gloves.

Prosecutors say during overseas conversations, Lutchman discussed assassinations and using a pressure cooker bomb.

Regarding Lutchman’s criminal history, he served approximately five years in prison for a robbery conviction in 2006 and has previous mental hygiene arrests. Lutchman’s family says he has a long history of mental problems.

He is due back in court Jan. 8. Steven Slawinski, his federal defender, declined to comment on the charge, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

City of Rochester Cancels Annual NYE Fireworks

Out of an abundance of caution, and to free up police resources, the fireworks show scheduled for 10 p.m. Thursday along the Genesee River downtown was canceled.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief Michael Ciminelli emphasized there is no further credible threat now that Lutchman is in custody.

Both said canceling the fireworks would free up to 30 officers to patrol the city.

“I’m always guided by the core principal what is in the best interest for the public’s safety, the City of Rochester and the people’s feelings,” Ciminelli said. “Not only do we want the city to be safe, we want people to feel safe in the city.

When you look at it from those two perspectives the call on the resources that we have are better deployed more generally throughout the residential neighborhoods throughout the business districts, we can have more officers more readily available.”

Cuomo: Terror Plot the “New Normal”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says as far as this case goes, law enforcement worked, but unfortunately, he believes we’ll see more cases like this one.

“The internet has opened a portal for hate, coming from the Middle East, and at one time it was just there, but one of the downsides of the Internet its expedited and facilitated that hate coming right across the oceans and people access it here,” said Cuomo, D-New York.

Cuomo said Lutchman became a Muslim while serving time behind bars in Attica, became radicalized on the Internet and had a specific plan to assassinate people.

Lutchman Left Impression on Neighbors

According to court records, Lutchman lived in a duplex at the corner of Grand Avenue and Culver Road, on Rochester’s northeast side.

“He’s just a street kid. He’s not a hardcore terrorist, y’know?” said Rob Dickerson, a neighbor. “He just jumped on a bandwagon, being a little stupid, y’know?”

Public documents and city court records show Lutchman also recently lived in an apartment on Saratoga Avenue, on the northwest side.

Arrest Harkens Back to Elfgeeh Case

One of the first Americans ever accused of helping and recruiting for the Islamic State Group was also from Rochester. Mufid Elfgeeh pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to two counts of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIL.

Federal prosecutors say between Dec. 2013 and May 2014, Elfgeeh recruited and tried to send two people overseas to fight in Syria with ISIL. Elfgeeh also sent money from Rochester to Yemen to help another man get to Syria and fight with ISIL.

As part of his plea agreement, Elfgeeh faces a little over 22 years in prison. Sentencing is March 17.

 

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