Joshua Ray Van Haften

Joshua Ray Van Haften is U.S. citizen and would-be foreign fighter for ISIS. He was taken into custody at Chicago O’Hare airport in April 2015 on a charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group. Van Haften pled guilty to charges on October 20, 2016.“Madison Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi/pr/madison-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isil.

According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, Van Haften had lived in Egypt from October 2012 to January 2014. While in Egypt, he allegedly took photographs of a military facility, which brought him to the attention of the Egyptian police. According to the FBI, Egyptian authorities returned Van Haften to the United States after learning from the U.S. embassy that Van Haften had been convicted in 1999 for sexually assaulting a child.U.S. District Court District for the Western District of Wisconsin, “United States of America v. Joshua Van Haften,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 28, 2014, 3-4, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/09/van_haften_complaint_signed.pdf.

In July 2014, the FBI interviewed a former associate of Van Haften’s who alleged that Van Haften had spoken of his desire to travel to Syria and join the Nusra Front. Van Haften reportedly traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, in late August 2014. After his arrival, Van Haften pledged allegiance online to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to authorities.“Madison Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi/pr/madison-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isil.

That September, days after Van Haften’s arrival in Istanbul, his former roommate told the FBI that Van Haften had shown signs of radicalization when he folded two $100 bills to resemble the Twin Towers and a missile. In September, the FBI confirmed that Van Haften was in Turkey and had scheduled a return flight on November 24, 2014.U.S. District Court District for the Western District of Wisconsin, “United States of America v. Joshua Van Haften,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 28, 2014, 6, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/09/van_haften_complaint_signed.pdf. The FBI also found pro-ISIS propaganda on Van Haften’s public Facebook page.U.S. District Court District for the Western District of Wisconsin, “United States of America v. Joshua Van Haften,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 28, 2014, 10, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/09/van_haften_complaint_signed.pdf.

While interviewing another former roommate that September, the FBI discovered that Van Haften had shared a video on Facebook by deceased al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.U.S. District Court District for the Western District of Wisconsin, “United States of America v. Joshua Van Haften,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 28, 2014, 6, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/09/van_haften_complaint_signed.pdf. In one Facebook exchange in October 2014, Van Haften wrote of his intention to fight “the Kuffar (slaves of America)” if authorities tried to arrest him.U.S. District Court District for the Western District of Wisconsin, “United States of America v. Joshua Van Haften,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 28, 2014, 14, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/09/van_haften_complaint_signed.pdf.

In October 2014, Turkish immigration officials arrested Van Haften and detained him until his return to the United States the following April.Myra Sanchik, “Detained in Turkey, arrested at O’Hare, Madison man accused of trying to join Islamic State,” Fox6 News, April 9, 2015, http://fox6now.com/2015/04/09/madison-man-charged-with-attempting-to-provide-material-support-to-isil/. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.“Madison Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi/pr/madison-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isil. In October 2016, he pleaded guilty in federal court to “attempting to provide material support . . . to a foreign terrorist organization,”“Madison Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi/pr/madison-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isil. and in February 2017, he was sentenced to ten years in federal prison and lifetime post-release supervision.“Wisconsin Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, February 17, 2017, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wisconsin-man-sentenced-10-years-prison-attempting-provide-material-support-isil. Van Haften is currently imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, with a tentative release date of May 18, 2023.“Joshua Van Haften” Find an Inmate – Federal Bureau of Prisons, https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/.

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