A South Florida resident was sentenced to life in prison after having been convicted at trial of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, an explosive device, and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mary B. McCord, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), made the announcement.
Harlem Suarez, a/k/a “Almlak Benitez,” 26, a U.S. legal resident residing in Monroe County, Florida, was convicted at trial in Key West, Florida on January 27, 2017, for knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(a)(2) and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B. Suarez was sentenced by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez in Key West to life in prison for the weapon of mass of mass destruction count of conviction and a concurrent term of 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support.
According to evidence introduced at trial, in April 2015, Suarez’s Facebook postings contained extremist rhetoric and promoted the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Evidence further indicated that Suarez told an FBI confidential human source that he wanted to make a “timer bomb.” Suarez purchased components for this device, which was to contain galvanized nails, be concealed in a backpack and be remotely detonated by a cellular telephone. Suarez intended to bury the device at a public beach in Key West and then detonate it.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, JTTF, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Key West Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marc S. Anton and Karen E. Gilbert with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.