Recently, three men from Wisconsin (two of them prior sex offenders) endeavored unsuccessfully to travel into Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS, the Islamic State terrorist organization. Furnishing military support to ISIS is a crime against the United States. The terrorist organization has killed U.S. citizens in Syria and Iraq and sought to perpetrate acts of terrorism against Americans and citizens of many other nations.
Two Recent Arrests
Recently near San Angelo, Texas, law enforcement officers arrested 35-year old Jason Ludke and 30-year old Yosvany Padilla-Conde. Both men reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Ludke possesses a prior criminal record for sexually assaulting a child in 2002 and sending death threats to a state judge in 2009. He converted to Islam in 2003.
Reportedly, Mr. Padilla-Conde informed federal agents he had sought to talk Jason Ludke out of his goal to volunteer for military service on behalf of the terrorist organization, but his friend instead had persuaded him to join the effort. The pair indicated they intended to travel across the Texas border into Mexico, where they planned to gain passports enabling them to travel to Arab nations in the Middle East. They hoped to enter Yemen in order to study Arabic. From there, they expected to journey to Syria where they planned to fight “infidels” i.e. non-Muslims.
Yemen currently remains the site of a bitter civil war. That nation, from which someone recently launched missiles against a U.S. Navy vessel, provides a haven for members of the ISIS terror group and other terrorists.
Both Mr. Ludke and Mr. Padilla-Conde could face potential prison sentences of up to two decades in jail if convicted. A spokesman from the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a statement noting the arrests demonstrate terrorism can pose a threat “anywhere at any time“.
A Third Arrest
On October 19, 2016, another Wisconsin resident, Joshua Van Haften, plead guilty at the federal courthouse in Madison to a charge of attempting to render material assistance to a terror organization. Raised in a rural part of the state, he had actually traveled to the Syrian border in an unsuccessful bid to assist terrorists fighting there. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Joshua Van Haften, aged 34, possesses a criminal record for committing sex offenses against children and stalking. He told authorities he was unable to fulfill his dream of aiding ISIS during his recent visit to the Middle East because the people who had promised to smuggle him into that nation had swindled money from him instead and dumped him along a roadside. Currently, thousands of refugees populate the region, many of them unattended children.
Despite the alleged robbery, Mr. Van Haften nevertheless somehow managed to return to the United States. Federal agents arrested him following his arrival at O’Hare Airport in April, 2015. He told a federal judge on Wednesday he hoped to become part of a new caliphate in the Syrian region. The court will sentence Joshua Van Haften this February.