An 18-year-old man from North Texas has pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to actively recruit for the Pakistani-backed terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the infamous militant group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The release states that Michael Kyle Sewell conspired to recruit a “co-conspirator” to join Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terror-fueled cause to liberate Kashmir from Indian rule. Sewell must have been surprised to find out that his contact for facilitating travel was in fact an undercover FBI agent.
Sewell was arrested and charged back in February but only now are all the dots in the case beginning to be connected. Sewell’s case was connected to another similar arrest of a terror suspect from two months ago. One Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion was reportedly apprehended by law enforcement at JFK Airport while attempting to travel abroad to join Lashkar-e-Taiba. Prior to his arrest, Encarnacion had messaged another undercover FBI agent that he’s “ready to kill and die in the name of Allah,” stating “I want to execute. I want to behead. Shoot.” As it would turn out, Encarnacion was the named co-conspirator of Sewell.
To any American concerned with national security, the revelation of the Sewell-Encarnacion plot should be disconcerting. Attempts to recruit militants on U.S. soil present a serious danger to domestic security. They are also a strong indication of the existence of other similar schemes in the works within the United States. Concerning LeT specifically, it is worth noting that the group has for long been on the back-burner of U.S. intelligence efforts as the group’s primary goal hasn’t been American assets. Trump’s counterterrorism policy released late last year was almost certainly responsible (at least in part) for bringing “second tier” groups like LeT back into focus. The policy designated any militant group with even a strong likelihood of targeting U.S. assets as a national security priority.