HYATTSVILLE, Md. — A Maryland man is behind bars after he was arrested on Friday on allegations that he was plotting to kill a U.S. military member on behalf of the barbaric Islamic group ISIS.
Nelash Mohamed Das, 24, of Hyattsville is a legal resident of the U.S., but is a citizen of Bangladesh.
“The danger posed by Mr. Das during this investigation was very real. He was committed to carrying out an attack against a military member,” Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Division said in a statement on Monday.
According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, as early as last year, Das began expressing support for ISIS on social media, including in regard to the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
In January 2016, Das posted a photograph of an assault rifle, writing, “This is more than just a gun. This is a ticket to Jannah.” Jannah refers to the Islamic concept of paradise.
He attended a handgun qualification license class in Prince George’s County in April, and practiced firing weapons over the next several months. In May, the FBI used an undercover agent to communicate with Das, and was soon informed that Das wanted to kill a military member in Prince George’s County who had been on a list posted online by ISIS.
In continued communication, Dad stated that he had lost the list, and would like a new copy as he was looking for the names of those he should target. He allegedly told the undercover agent, who posed as an ISIS supporter, that he was dedicated “100%” carrying out an attack.
“That’s like my goal in life,” Das said.
In late September, the agent drove Das to a firearms store, where he purchased ammunition. He then was provided with the (false) identifying information of a person who he was told was a member of the U.S. military. Das was also led to believe that an ISIS contact in Iraq would pay the two $80,000 for carrying out the attack.
On Sept. 30, the day that the two had planned to kill the supposed military member, Das texted the undercover agent “I’m ready.” The agent then picked up Das at his home, where Das loaded two firearms provided by the agent and placed them in the trunk.
“Although Das believed that the firearms could fire ammunition, in reality, they had been rendered inert by the FBI,” the U.S. Department of Justice outlines.
When the two arrived at the address of the target, members of the FBI approached Das as he stood at the trunk of the vehicle. He tried to run away, but was captured and made his first appearance in court on Monday.
Das faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
“Through our proactive investigative stance, we were able to ensure the citizens of Maryland were protected,” Johnson said. “The covert nature of the defendant’s alleged actions is a stark reminder of the challenges we face in preventing attacks, and underscores the critical need for those with knowledge about terror plots to come forward.”