13WHAM Exclusive: Texts between Rochester terrorist and ISIS recruiter revealed
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- He was convicted of planning a terror attack in Rochester. In a 13WHAM exclusive report, we show you the previously undisclosed conversations between Emanuel Lutchman and a key ISIS recruiter in Syria.
"Emanuel Lutchman was in contact with the extra territorial operations planner for the Islamic State and that person directed him to commit an attack,” said Joseph Testani, Supervisor of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
That plot was foiled by the FBI, but when they arrested Lutchman a day before his planned New Year's Eve attack in 2015, authorities didn't know the full extent of his conversations with ISIS.
What you are about to read are the actual text messages between Lutchman and an ISIS contact in Syria.
"I hate everything here in America I swear brother,” Lutchman wrote to the ISIS recruiter in one of his first texts on Christmas Day.
"He wanted to go over to be a part of the Islamic State in their term, the caliphate, in Syria or Iraq,” said Testani.
The FBI says Lutchman had consumed hours upon hours of ISIS propaganda, eventually reaching out to the group directly. Simply by clicking on a link, he's put in touch with Abu Isa Al-Amriki in Syria.
"Al-Amriki set the framework for him and Emanuel Lutchman filled in the pieces,” said Testani.
"I truly hate it here. I want to join the ranks so bad," Lutchman tells Al-Amriki on December 26.
Al-Amriki responds, "For now do wat u can over there."
"Our feeling is the Islamic State saw more value to him here in the United States than overseas fighting on behalf of ISIS,” said Testani. "They saw an individual that was prone to violence, willing to commit violence, they just redirected that violence to the United States."
Beginning on Christmas Day, the two communicated every day during the week leading up to New Year's Eve. Those conversations were kept off the grid, using an app that hid the messages from authorities. The FBI says, while not well educated, Lutchman was smart.
"One of the things we would point to is his ability to get online, to find the Islamic State online, to carry on encrypted conversations with the Islamic State online, fully intending to have those conversations encrypted to avoid law enforcement or national security review,” said Testani.
Lutchman and Al-Amriki's conversation would soon turn to planning an attack in Rochester.
"Eventually Abu Isa Al-Amriki suggested New Year’s Eve was approaching when the sinners, the kuffar, the Americans would be consuming alcohol and to go into an establishment and to kill Americans,” said Testani.
Al-Amriki would encourage Lutchman to plan an "operation in new years or wherever u can kill 1000000s. Ur behind enemy lines. Ur like the closest person to our most hated enemy."
Lutchman responds, "mapping out this operation wit a brother of mines as we speak."
"There was feedback from him. He wasn't a passive, receptive person who just merely took instructions from Abu Isa Al-Amriki and then went and carried that mission out. He gave feedback to Abu Isa, and they came up with this plot after a back and forth,” said Testani.
As the day approaches, Lutchman writes, "there's no turning back from this path it's just im making peace."
He would eventually settle on his target, the Merchants Grill, a bar where Lutchman was known for aggressively panhandling for money.
"He knew it was a place that he could go and be more successful in his attack because of his knowledge of that establishment,” said Testani.
Lutchman went to the Hudson Avenue Walmart to buy his supplies. A black ski masks, zip ties, knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves. He didn't know he was now with an FBI informant and agents were trailing him. Walmart security was even briefed by authorities so not to flag his purchases.
The same day he writes Al-Amriki, "we are doing a operation on the new years like plan."
"He wanted to commit this attack to show his loyalty to this Islamic State, hoping that would then encourage the Islamic State to fund his travel into the Islamic State,” said Testani.
Al-Amriki urges Lutchman to create a martyrdom video.
"The blood that you spill of the muslims overseas, we're going to spill the blood of the kuffar,” Lutchman says in the video.
"We'll post them after the operation to let the world know we are coming," Al-Amriki tells Lutchman.
Moments after he shoots that video, the FBI moves in, taking Lutchman into custody. Four months later, Al-Amriki is killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria.
Al-Amriki told Lutchman he would help him to get Libya after he proved himself with the attack in Rochester.
Lutchman would plead guilty to providing material support to ISIS and received 20 years in prison. When sentenced, Lutchman told the judge "there will be more of us" and "there will be more blood."