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Rochester man accused of New Year's Eve plot

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Emanual Lutchman

Officials in Rochester canceled a New Year's Eve fireworks celebration following the arrest of a 25-year-old Rochester man, who is accused of trying to provide support to terrorists and help ISIS (also known as ISIL) kill innocent civilians on New Year's Eve at a restaurant-bar in the Rochester area.

The U.S. Attorney's office says that Emanuel Lutchman claimed to be getting directions from an overseas ISIL member, as part of Lutchman's alleged interest in eventually joining the terrorists' overseas operations.

According to the federal complaint,  Lutchman told an FBI informant that he had been in touch with someone overseas who he said was a member of ISIL. Authorities say Lutchman told this person that he was arranging an operation with “a brother,” and talked about doing assassinations and using a pressure cooker bomb.

Lutchman also allegedly said that “he hates this land” (meaning the U.S.) and that he wants to live under the caliphate. Lutchman is described as a U.S. citizen who is a self-professed  Muslim convert.

The criminal complaint also says that Lutchman, on or around December 28, indicated to a federal informant that he wanted to target a club/bar, suggesting that they could sneak a bomb inside. Officials say Lutchman proposed that he and the informant kidnap a couple of people and kill them. They say that Lutchman and the informant went to a Walmart to buy supplies for the operation including ski masks, zip-ties, knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves.

Lutchman allegedly had a restaurant/bar where he wanted to carry out that operation, but that location has not yet been identified by authorities.  But the Democrat & Chronicle reports it was the Merchants Grill, and quoted the owner of the establishment as saying that Lutchman often loitered outside his business.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says that Lutchman and the informant also talked about making a video before the operation, in which they would explain their rationale for the attack. On Wednesday, members of a Rochester Joint Terrorism Task force arrested Lutchman who was in a vehicle with the informant at the time. Officials say prior to the arrest, Lutchman made a video which was recorded on his cell phone where he swore allegiance to ISIS and claimed responsibility for the planned attack in Rochester.

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Emanual Lutchman

Lutchman is charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS.

"This New Year’s Eve prosecution underscores the threat of ISIL even in upstate New York but demonstrates our determination to immediately stop any who would cause harm in its name,” said U.S. Attorney William Hochul. What began as an ISIL directive to harm the community ended with the arrest of this defendant and a message for any other individuals considering similar behavior – you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will be punished. While law enforcement is well equipped for such investigations, the public is reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity."

Prosecutors say Lutchman has a criminal history dating back to about 2006, which includes a conviction for robbery, as well as previous arrests under the mental hygiene law.  This is the second ISIS-related arrest in Rochester in recent months. Mufid Elfgeeh  was arrested last year and accused of recruiting for the terrorist organization.