US Citizen Pleads Guilty to Recruiting for Lashkar-e-Taiba

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), according to a release from the Department of Justice last week. The release states that Michael Kyle Sewell conspired to recruit a “co-conspirator” to join Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terror-fueled cause in Kashmir, but his contact for facilitating travel turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

Sewell pleaded guilty last week to his actions and now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The individual Sewell attempted to recruit was identified only as “co-conspirator1,” however NDTV coverage of the case suggests that his partner was likely Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, arrested in February under similar circumstances. According to a February press release, Department of Justice noted that Encarnacion was “arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport while allegedly attempting to travel overseas to join LeT,” and “conspired with another individual to provide that organization with material support.”

Looking at the two releases side-by-side a connection does appear to reveal itself, and NDTV’s citing of transcripts from the cases further links the two individuals’ hatred. A picture emerges of a growing interest from American extremists in the Pakistani-backed Kashmiri terror nexus. Both men expressed vitriolic hate aimed at Indians.

Jesus Encarnacion messaged an undercover FBI agent last year that he was “ready to kill and die in the name of Allah,” stating “I want to execute. I want to behead. Shoot,” according to the DoJ. He also told the agent, “You are beefing with India over Muslim land. I (expletive) hate Hindus.” Similarly, NDTV reported that according to transcripts, “Michael Sewell asked the FBI undercover employee ‘to (expletive) up and slaughter the Hindu Kafir, destroy their shrines and idols.'”

Reports also suggest that Encarnacion initially expressed interest in joining the Islamic State, but Sewell allegedly persuaded him to instead join LeT, stating “[don’t] join the IS because IS has no territory.” This is a noteworthy point, as the Islamic State’s lack of physical territory is directly seen as inhibiting the group’s recruitment prospects.

The Islamic State has since launched attacks in the Kashmir region, and announced a new province, “Wilayat Hind,” for their operations there. However, as FDD’s Long War Journal Senior Editor Thomas Joscelyn wrote this week, “The decision to claim the attacks as the work of new ‘provinces,’ which were announced with little fanfare, does not mean that the Islamic State’s men have necessarily increased their operational capacity in those areas.”

Phil Hegseth is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

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