New York coroner ‘confident’ Epstein’s death was suicide: New York Times

An exterior view of the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

(Reuters) – New York City’s chief medical examiner is confident Jeffrey Epstein died by hanging himself in the jail cell where he was being held without bail on sex-trafficking charges, but is awaiting more information before releasing her determination, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing a city official.

An autopsy was performed earlier in the day on the disgraced financier found unresponsive on Saturday in a New York City jail, chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said. A private pathologist observed the autopsy on behalf of Epstein’s representatives, which she called “routine practice.”

A determination on the cause of death “is pending further information at this time,” Sampson said in a statement.

The suspicion in Epstein’s death was hanging, said a city official not authorized to speak on the record.

The Times did not say why it could not identify the source of information on the medical examiner’s likely determination of the cause of death.

Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch at the time in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a source said.

Epstein, a well-connected money manager, was found hanging by his neck, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The wealthy financier, who once counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14, from at least 2002 to 2005.

The FBI and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General opened investigations into his suicide while he was in federal custody.

Last month, Epstein was found unconscious on the floor of his jail cell with marks on his neck, and officials were investigating that incident as a possible suicide or assault.

Despite that incident, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and he was alone in a cell in the unit of the correctional center used to isolate vulnerable prisoners when his body was found.

It was not immediately clear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch, a special set of procedures for inmates who are deemed to be at risk of taking their own lives.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which operates the MCC, provided no explanation beyond its terse statement that Epstein was found dead in an apparent suicide.

His death touched off outrage from Attorney General William Barr, politicians and many of Epstein’s alleged victims, who fear that they may lose their day in court now that Epstein is dead.

That investigation into conduct described in the indictment, including the conspiracy count, will continue despite Epstein’s death, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said on Saturday.

The indictment – which accused Epstein of knowingly recruiting underage women to engage in sex acts, sometimes over a period of years – came more than a decade after he pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor in a deal with prosecutors that has been widely criticized as too lenient.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Rigby)

Trump calls Smollett case ’embarrassment,’ announces review

FILE PHOTO: Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after charges against him were dropped by state prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the Department of Justice will “review” the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with staging a fake hate crime in Chicago before prosecutors abruptly dropped the case this week.

In an early morning tweet announcing the review, Trump said the case had embarrassed the nation.

Smollett, who is black and gay, said two men attacked him at night in January, making homophobic and racist remarks and putting a noose around his neck while shouting support for Trump.

Investigators later charged Smollett with paying the two men to pretend to attack him in order to garner public sympathy for himself. Prosecutors dropped the charges on Tuesday, saying they stood by the accusation but that an agreement by Smollett to forfeit his $10,000 bond was a just outcome.

The county prosecutors’ decision stunned the city’s police chief, prompted the police union to demand a federal investigation and enraged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, who called it a “whitewash” that made a fool of the city.

Trump, a Republican, echoed those remarks early on Thursday.

“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. “It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”

Smollett, 36, says he is innocent and did not stage the attack. His spokeswoman and his lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

The FBI has already had some involvement in the case, with agents investigating a threatening letter Smollett said he received prior to the attack, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The initial reports of two Trump supporters attacking a gay, black celebrity drew widespread sympathy for Smollett, particularly from Democrats. That faded quickly after the actor’s arrest, and the case was seized on by some as an example of what Trump likes to deride as “fake news.”

Smollett is best known for playing a gay musician on the Fox drama “Empire.” His lawyers said he hopes to move on with his acting career, but it remains unclear whether he will return to “Empire” after being written out of the last two episodes of the most recent season.

Chicago’s chief prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, has defended her office’s decision as proportionate to what she described as relatively minor charges, saying that even if Smollett had been convicted he would likely not have faced prison time.

Foxx recused herself from the case after acknowledging she had discussed it with a relative of Smollett.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. attorney general issues order to speed up immigrant deportations

Women from the Dominican Republic are apprehended by the border patrol for illegally crossing into the U.S. border from Mexico in Los Ebanos, Texas, U.S., August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday sought to speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants, telling immigration judges they should only postpone cases in removal proceedings “for good cause shown.”

Sessions, in an interim order that was criticized by some lawyers, said the “good-cause” standard “limits the discretion of immigration judges and prohibits them from granting continuances for any reason or no reason at all.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Unlike the federal judiciary system, U.S. immigration courts fall under the Department of Justice and the attorney general can intervene. Sessions, a Republican former U.S. Senator appointed by President Donald Trump, has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant parents from their children while they were in U.S. detention. Trump abandoned the separation policy in June under political pressure.

Critical in showing “good cause” is whether a person is likely to succeed in efforts to remain in the United States, either by appealing for asylum or receiving some form of visa or work permit, Sessions said on Thursday.

Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU immigrants rights project, described Sessions’ order as “troubling” and one of a series that “has moved in the direction of restricting due process rights for individuals who are in removal proceedings.”

Kang said Sessions seemed to portray immigrants seeking more time to prepare their cases as trying to “game the system and avoid deportation.”

Kang said removal proceedings were complex and people needed time “both to get lawyers to ensure that their due process rights are protected and time just to make sure their cases get a fair hearing.”

The Justice Department has been struggling to reduce a backlog of deportation cases. An analysis by the Government Accountability Office last year found the number of cases that drag on from one year to the next more than doubled between 2006 and 2015, mainly because fewer cases are completed per year.

Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said more immigration judges had been hired, but “unnecessary and improper continuances … continue to plague the immigration court system and contribute to the backlog.”

Sessions said on Thursday that the “use of continuances as a dilatory tactic is particularly pernicious in the immigration context” because people in the country illegally who want to remain have an incentive to delay their deportation as long as possible.

Granting continuances solely for good cause would be an “important check on immigration judges’ authority” and demonstrate public interest in “expeditious enforcement of the immigration laws,” Sessions said.

(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

U.S. lawmakers ask DOJ if terrorism law covers pipeline activists

U.S. lawmakers ask DOJ if terrorism law covers pipeline activists

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. representatives from both parties asked the Department of Justice on Monday whether the domestic terrorism law would cover actions by protesters that shut oil pipelines last year, a move that could potentially increase political rhetoric against climate change activists.

Ken Buck, a Republican representative from Colorado, said in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that damaging pipeline infrastructure poses risks to humans and the environment.

The letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said “operation of pipeline facilities by unqualified personnel could result in a rupture – the consequences of which would be devastating.” It was signed by 84 representatives, including at least two Democrats, Gene Green and Henry Cuellar, both of Texas.

The move by the lawmakers is a sign of increasing tensions between activists protesting projects including Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Dakota Access Pipeline and the administration of President Donald Trump, which is seeking to make the country “energy dominant” by boosting domestic oil, gas, and coal output.

Last year activists in several states used bolt cutters to break fences and twisted shut valves on several cross border pipelines that sent about 2.8 million barrels per day of crude to the United States from Canada, equal to roughly 15 percent of daily U.S. consumption.

The letter asks Sessions whether existing federal laws arm the Justice Department to prosecute criminal activity against energy infrastructure. It also asks whether attacks on energy infrastructure that pose a threat to human life fall within the department’s understanding of domestic terrorism law.

The Department of Justice acknowledged receiving the letter and is reviewing it, a spokesman said.

A terrorism expert said it was ironic the lawmakers referred to the law, which defines “domestic terrorism” as acts dangerous to human life intended to intimidate civilians, but does not offer a way to prosecute anyone under it. David Schanzer, a homeland security and terrorism expert at Duke University, said the lawmakers’ request of Sessions “won’t have any legal ramifications, but possibly could be used for rhetorical value.”

A Minnesota court is considering charges against several protesters suspected of turning the valves on the pipelines last year. District Court Judge Robert Tiffany has allowed the defendants to present a “necessity defense.” That means they will admit shutting the valves, but may call witnesses, such as scientific experts, to offer testimony about the urgency of what they say is a climate crisis, activists said.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Diane Craft)

Cities dubbed immigrant ‘sanctuaries’ hit back on Trump funding threat

Immigrant supporters protest during the Los Angeles City Council ad hoc committee on immigration meeting in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Department of Justice is reviewing letters from 10 local jurisdictions that said they are in compliance with U.S. immigration law, to determine whether to cut federal funding, officials said Thursday, heating up a dispute between so-called sanctuary cities and President Donald Trump’s administration.

In April, the department had asked a handful of states and cities to document by June 30 their compliance with a statute that says local governments cannot prevent their employees from sharing information with U.S. immigration officials.

The Trump administration has said jurisdictions that do not fully cooperate are shielding “criminal illegal aliens,” and has promised to crack down on cities that do not comply. The sanctuary jurisdictions say they are following the law and do not want to spend local resources on immigration enforcement.

“It is not enough to assert compliance, the jurisdictions must actually be in compliance,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Thursday. He said the 10 jurisdictions had written in with “alleged compliance information” and that the government would “examine these claims carefully.”

Sessions’ statement said “some of these jurisdictions have boldly asserted they will not comply with requests from federal immigration authorities.” If the government finds the cities are violating the statute, known as Section 1373, it could decide to cut federal funds.

In the letters seen by Reuters, the jurisdictions say they are following the law even though some do not honor all “detainer” requests sent by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.) A “detainer” asks local authorities to hold people in jail up to 48 hours beyond when they are set to be released so immigration officials can take them into custody.

Many of the letters noted that compliance with detainer requests is voluntary and is not required under the statute. The jurisdictions targeted are the states of California and Connecticut, Chicago and Cook County in Illinois, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and New York.

At least one of the jurisdictions – Nevada’s Clark County, which is dominated by Las Vegas – has a long-standing formal agreement with ICE in which local police officers help with federal immigration enforcement.

New York City said it complies with detainer requests for people who have been convicted of certain “violent or serious” crimes, so long as the request is accompanied by a judicial warrant. Like other cities, New York said its priority is creating trust between immigrant communities and local police to encourage residents, even if they are living in the country illegally, to report crimes.

Mitchell Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans made a similar argument in a letter to Sessions. He said the administration has erroneously characterized sanctuary cities as havens for Central American gangs. Landrieu said an audit of gangs in New Orleans did not find a single Latino-dominated group.

“Undocumented people who commit violent crimes must face the criminal and immigration legal systems of this country. But that does not mean that all people are illegal immigrants that are part of violent gangs,” Landrieu wrote.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele called the Justice Department’s statement on Thursday “inflammatory.”

The county is at risk of losing more than $6 million in revenue if the Justice Department follows through, a June 28 letter from its lawyers said. It said Milwaukee would “avail itself of all legal options available” to “protect its grant funding.”

Trump’s executive order early in his presidency pledging to cut funding to sanctuary cities has been challenged in the courts. In April, a federal judge in San Francisco said in a case brought by Santa Clara county that cities were likely to succeed in proving Trump’s order unconstitutional.

The California county wrote in a court filing on Thursday that top administration officials have repeatedly stated that federal funding should be tied to local willingness to honor ICE detainer requests.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Allen in New York; additional reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; editing by Grant McCool)

Contractor charged with leaking document about U.S. election hacking: sources

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for sending classified material to a news organization, poses in a picture posted to her Instagram account. Reality Winner/Social Media via REUTERS

By Dustin Volz and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday charged a federal contractor with sending classified material to a news organization that sources identified to Reuters as The Intercept, marking one of the first concrete efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on leaks to the media.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, was charged with removing classified material from a government facility located in Georgia. She was arrested on June 3, the Justice Department said.

The charges were announced less than an hour after The Intercept published a top-secret document from the U.S. National Security Agency that described Russian efforts to launch cyber attacks on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and send “spear-phishing” emails, or targeted emails that try to trick a recipient into clicking on a malicious link to steal data, to more than 100 local election officials days before the presidential election last November.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the case beyond its filing. Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the charges do not name the publication, a U.S. official with knowledge of the case said Winner was charged with leaking the NSA report to The Intercept. A second official confirmed The Intercept document was authentic and did not dispute that the charges against Winner were directly tied to it.

The Intercept’s reporting reveals new details behind the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence services were seeking to infiltrate state voter registration systems as part of a broader effort to interfere in the election, discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help then Republican candidate Donald Trump win the election.

The new material does not, however, suggest that actual votes were manipulated.

The Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Winter’s mother also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While partially redacted, the NSA document is marked to show it would be up for declassification on May 5, 2042. The indictment against Winner alleges she “printed and improperly removed” classified intelligence reporting that was dated “on or about May 5, 2017.”

Classified documents are typically due to be declassified after 25 years under an executive order signed under former President Bill Clinton.

The NSA opened a facility in Augusta in 2012 at Fort Gordon, a U.S. Army outpost.

The FBI and several congressional committees are investigating how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and whether associated of President Donald Trump may have colluded with Russian intelligence operatives during the campaign.

Trump has dismissed the allegations as “fake news,” while attempting to refocus attention on leaks of information to the media.

Winner graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in 2011. Investigators determined she was one of only six individuals to print the document in question and that she had exchanged emails with the news outlet, according to the indictment.

U.S. intelligence agencies including the NSA and CIA have fallen victim to several thefts of classified material in recent years, often at the hands of a federal contractor. For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept’s Greenwald, that revealed broad U.S. surveillance programs.

(Additional reporting by John Walcott)

U.S. appeals to higher court over ruling against Trump’s revised travel ban

Demonstrators rally against the Trump administration's new ban against travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, outside of the White House. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Mica Rosenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government took the legal battle over President Donald Trump’s travel ban to a higher court on Friday, saying it would appeal against a federal judge’s decision that struck down parts of the ban on the day it was set to go into effect.

The Department of Justice said in a court filing it would appeal against a ruling by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

On Thursday, Chuang issued an emergency halt to the portion of Trump’s March 6 executive order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. He left in place the section of the order that barred the entry of refugees to the United States for four months.

Another federal judge in Hawaii struck down both sections of the ban in a broader court ruling that prevented Trump’s order from moving forward.

In Washington state, where the ban is also being challenged, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart put a stay on proceedings for as long as the Hawaii court’s nationwide temporary restraining order remained in place, to “conserve resources” and avoid inconsistent and duplicate rulings.

The decisions came in response to lawsuits brought by states’ attorneys general in Hawaii and refugee resettlement agencies in Maryland who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.

Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a media briefing the government would “vigorously defend this executive order” and appeal against the “flawed rulings.”

The Department of Justice filed a motion late on Friday night seeking clarification of Hawaii’s ruling before appealing to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The 9th Circuit court last month upheld a decision by Judge Robart that halted an original, more sweeping travel ban signed by the President on Jan. 27 in response to a lawsuit filed by Washington state.

The new executive order was reissued with the intention of overcoming the legal concerns.

Trump has vowed to take the fight all the way to U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared to the 9th Circuit, said Buzz Frahn, an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has been tracking the litigation nationwide.

“The government is probably thinking that the 4th Circuit … would lend a friendlier ear to its arguments,” he said.

Judges have said they were willing to look behind the text of the order, which does not mention Islam, to probe the motivation for enacting the ban, Frahn said. Trump promised during the election campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently split 4-4 between liberals and conservatives, with Trump’s pick for the high court – appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch – still awaiting confirmation.

Hans von Spakovsky, from the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said the Department of Justice might want to time their appeals to reach the Supreme Court after Gorsuch is confirmed. He said the court would be likely to hear the case.

“They will take it because of its national importance,” Spakovsky said.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Sue Horton, Mary Milliken and Paul Tait)

Dakota Access pipeline moves closer to completion: lawmakers

Police monitor outskirts of Dakota Access Pipeline protest

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant the final approval needed to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline project, U.S. Senator John Hoeven and Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said on Tuesday.

However, opponents of the $3.8 billion project, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the route, claimed that Hoeven and Cramer were jumping the gun and that an environmental study underway must be completed before the permit was granted.

For months, climate activists and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been protesting against the completion of the line under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River. The one-mile stretch of the 1,170-mile (1,885 km) line is the only incomplete section in North Dakota.

The project would run from the western part of the state to Patoka, Illinois, and connect to another line to move crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Hoeven said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer had told him and Vice President Mike Pence of the move. “This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream,” Hoeven, a Republican, said in a statement.

Representatives for the Army Corps of Engineers could not be reached immediately for comment late on Tuesday. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week allowing Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Dakota Access Pipeline to go forward, after months of protests from Native American groups and climate activists pushed the administration of President Barack Obama to ask for an additional environmental review of the controversial project.

The approval would mark a bitter defeat for Native American tribes and climate activists, who successfully blocked the project earlier and vowed to fight the decision through legal action.

On Tuesday evening, the Standing Rock tribe said the Army could not circumvent a scheduled environmental impact study that was ordered by the outgoing Obama administration in January. “The Army Corps lacks statutory authority to simply stop the EIS,” they said in a statement.

The tribe said it would take legal action against the U.S. Army’s reported decision to grant the final easement.

To view a graphic on the Dakota Access line route, click http://tmsnrt.rs/2kpvmic

“JUMPED THE GUN”

Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice lawyer representing the tribe, told Reuters that Hoeven and Cramer “jumped the gun” by saying the easement would be granted and that the easement was not yet issued.

Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environment Network, which has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline, said on Twitter that lawmakers were “trying to incite violence” by saying the easement was granted before it was official.

There have been numerous clashes between law enforcement and protesters over the past several months, some of which have turned violent. More than 600 arrests have been made.

Heavy earth-moving equipment had been moved to the protest camp in recent days to remove abandoned tipis and cars, with the camp to be cleared out before expected flooding in March.

There were more than 10,000 people at the camp at one point, including Native Americans, climate activists and veterans. Several hundred remain.

A spokesman for Hoeven, Don Canton, said it would probably be a “matter of days rather than weeks” for the easement to be issued.

Oil producers in North Dakota are expected to benefit from a quicker route for crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp said the timeline for construction was still unknown but said she hoped Trump would provide additional law enforcement resources and funding to ensure the safe start of pipeline construction.

“We also know that with tensions high, our families, workers, and tribal communities deserve the protective resources they need to stay safe,” Heitkamp said.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Eric Beech in Washington, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, David Gaffen in New York and Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Paul Tait)

Milwaukee man arrested for machine gun possession allegedly planned mass shooting

Authorities foiled a 23-year-old Milwaukee man’s alleged plans to commit a deadly mass shooting at a Masonic temple in the city, prosecutors announced Tuesday afternoon.

Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was charged with possessing machine guns and a silencer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said in a news release.

Prosecutors said that law enforcement had been investigating Hamzeh since September, and that he had been communicating with two confidential sources since October.

Prosecutors allege Hamzeh toured the temple with those sources on January 19, and later discussed plans to use machine guns and silencers to kill dozens of people there. Hamzeh allegedly told the sources the event “will be known all over the world” and jihadists “will be proud of us.”

Prosecutors allege Hamzeh had been planning to travel to Jordan and attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank, but ditched those plans and shifted his focus to the United States.

He was arrested after allegedly purchasing two automatic weapons and a silencer from undercover FBI agents on Monday, according to the news release.

In a statement, Robert J. Shields, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee office, said the arrest thwarted “an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and/or loss of life.”

An FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was involved in the investigation.

The news release includes several comments that Hamzeh allegedly told the sources during their recorded conversations, in which he explained his goals and strategies for the attack.

He allegedly said that one of the three of them needed to guard the temple’s main door and “spray anyone he finds” while others went upstairs to “spray everyone” in a meeting.

“We will shoot them, kill them and get out,” he allegedly said, according to the release. “We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we’ll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal. But one has to stand on the door, because if no one stood at the door, people will be going in and out, if people came in from outside and found out what is going on, everything is busted.”

Hamzeh also allegedly told the sources that “we will eliminate everyone,” prosecutors said.

“Thirty is excellent,” Hamzeh allegedly commented to the sources. “If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. … 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”

Grand Jury Indicts Friend of San Bernardino Shooter

The man accused of purchasing two of the assault rifles used in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Enrique Marquez Jr. was indicted on charges that he lied about buying some of the weapons that his longtime friend, Syed Rizwan Farook, and Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, used when they killed 14 people during a holiday party for Farook’s coworkers on Dec. 2 in southern California, the Department of Justice announced. Prosecutors also said Marquez was indicted on charges that he conspired with Farook to plot two other attacks in 2011 and 2012, which were later called off.

Prosecutors previously announced those plots involved using pipe bombs and explosives at Riverside Community College, where both Farook and Marquez studied, and a stretch of highway during rush-hour traffic. Prosecutors allege Marquez bought two assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 and claimed they were for his own use, when he was actually giving them to Farook for the attacks.

Marquez and Farook allegedly visited gun ranges to practice shooting, prosecutors have said, but Marquez ultimately distanced himself from his friend after other people in Southern California were arrested on terrorism charges. But the Justice Department has said the guns Marquez bought were among the four weapons authorities recovered after Farook and Malik died in a shootout with police, and forensic testing confirmed that those two rifles were used in the deadly rampage.

“Mr. Marquez is charged for his role in a conspiracy several years ago to target innocent civilians in our own backyard with cold-blooded terror attacks, and with providing weapons to an individual whose endgame was murder,” David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI’s office in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Marquez was indicted on two counts of making a false statement about the gun buys, one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and two counts related to marrying one of Farook’s family members, which prosecutors allege was a sham to help the woman’s immigration status. The indictments came about two week after Marquez was charged.

Marquez, 24, is being held without bond pending a Jan. 6 court appearance, according to prosecutors. If he’s convicted of the most serious offense, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, prosecutors said he faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.