SAN ANGELO, TX - Tom Green County Sheriff David Jones confirmed Friday evening that his office, along with Texas DPS and the FBI, arrested two suspected for providing material support for ISIS. He said his agency was warned to be on the lookout for the duo by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
Jones stated that after a short time of surveillance of the duo, multiple agencies stopped and detained them as they traveled along a stretch of U.S. 87 in northern Tom Green County. The arrests happened Oct. 5. Jones said he didn’t release the information immediately pending the announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Kanter in the Wisconsin office will prosecute the case.
Arrested were Jason Michael Ludke, 35, of Milwaukee. He was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, ISIS. His running partner was Yosvany Padilla-Conde, 30, an illegal alien living in Milwaukee. He was charged with aiding and abetting Ludke. Both face 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 each.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by San Angelo LIVE!, Padilla-Conde is also known as Saadiq Ibn Abbas and Saadiq Padilla. Ludke is also known as Muhammad Nassir, Muhammad Abdun Naasir Al-Hannafi and Abuz Sayyaf.
Both Padilla-Conde and Ludke were known to the JTTF as having stated their intent to travel overseas to join ISIS. An undercover FBI agent operating in the circles where ISIS was recruiting Americans on social media received a friend request over Facebook from Ludke. Thereafter, the two engaged in an Instant Messenger conversation. Ludke told the undercover agent that he is from the U.S. and wants to make “hijra” (or migration) away from “darul kufr” (Land of the Infidel).
In a later conversation, Ludke stated he was making plans to come “there,” but, because he has a criminal history, he was traveling to Mexico first. Ludke said he had family in Mexico where he will be able to purchase papers. Ludke volunteered his email address to the undercover agent and sent him two pictures of himself.
By the end of September, Ludke asked for a voice call with the agent who was posing as a recruiter for ISIS. During the voice conversation, Ludke said he was trying to recruit a “brother” to go with him. He said his “brother” converted to Islam in 2003. Ludke also detailed his plans to use his brother-in-law in Mexico to help him get from the U.S. and into Mexico.
Ludke’s planned destination was Raqqah, Syria, and then he had plans to travel to Mosul, Iraq, the U.S. Attorney’s complaint states.
The undercover agent stated that Ludke “pledged his allegiance to the leader if ISIL (ISIS) (the purported “Caliph”), Al-Baghdadi, and stated his desire to live under Sharia. He also rejected tyranny and “Kuffar (infidels), and stated that he believes in Al-Wala’wa Al Bara’, or “love Muslims and hate infidels for Allah’s sake. He stated he was ready to join the hijrah, or migration, to join ISIS because he knows ISIS are on the path of Haq (truth).
Ludke stated he was tired of the infidel’s system in America and wanted to learn the deen (religion) and strive for Jannah (paradise).
Later that day, Ludke sent a video of himself where he pledged allegiance to Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
In early October, Ludke introduced the FBI agent to his traveling partner, Padilla-Cone, who by this time was going by the name AbuZaid Haddaf. Padilla-Cone sent a similar video via email to the FBI agent pledging his allegiance to Al-Baghdadi.
By Oct. 4, the duo left Wisconsin for their trek to Mexico and informed the undercover FBI agent of their progress along the way. On Oct. 5, Ludke, via email, informed the FBI he was traveling through Texas on the way to El Paso where his brother-in-law, who the FBI states is a Palestinian Muslim, advised him to cross.
The duo also bragged to the undercover agent about their practice in martial arts, computers, and that his traveling partner had firearms training from his time in the military in Cuba.
After this last email communication, the duo was spotted north of San Angelo on U.S. 87. Both were arrested by the sheriff with assistance from the Texas DPS and FBI. Ludke was arrested for an outstanding warrant in Milwaukee. Padilla-Conde was held on immigration-related issues.
In the interview with the FBI after their arrest, Ludke stated that he and Padilla-Conde were unable to pay their rent in Wisconsin and Ludke feared being sent back to jail. Padilla-Conde feared deportation. While traveling through Texas, the duo told the FBI they made a wide range of plans, including going to Yemen. Ludke told agents he was an avid watcher of Internet videos featuring Anwar Awlaki and other Sufi lectures.
Padilla-Conde told the FBI that he was having difficulties making a living working for cash and was about to be evicted. He stated that he asked for and received permission to park in area mosque parking lots in their vehicle along their way to Texas. Padilla-Conde stated that he wasn’t serious about traveling overseas or joining ISIS and attempted to talk Ludke out of it. He said his intentions were to ditch Ludke once he helped him get across the Texas-Mexico border.
Sheriff Jones said the arrest was all in a day’s work, and his office was committed to keeping his county safe. Jones was quick to give credit to the FBI for their coordination with his agency, and for finding this duo before they became threats to the U.S. and citizens.
Update October 2018: Ludke Pleaded Guilty
On Oct. 25, 2018, Jason Michael Ludke, of Milwaukee, pled guilty to conspiring to provide material support or resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1). Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Special Agent-in-Charge R. Justin Tolomeo of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division made the announcement today.
According to the plea agreement, Ludke and a co-conspirator agreed that they would travel through Mexico to Syria and Iraq in order to join ISIS and to work under its direction and control. Ludke also recorded a video of himself pledging his allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and stating that he was ready to join ISIS. Ludke told an FBI Undercover Employee (UCE), who Ludke believed was assisting in the travel plans, that Ludke had training in jiu-jitsu and computers, which Ludke believed would benefit ISIS. On Oct. 5, 2016, Ludke and his coconspirator were traveling to the Texas/Mexico border in order to accomplish their plan to join ISIS (in Syria or Iraq), when law enforcement located and arrested them.
Ludke has prior convictions for child sexual assault and for making death threats against a federal judge. Also according to the plea agreement, Ludke was on probation at the time he was arrested and had cut the tracking device from his ankle before leaving Wisconsin.
“This conviction demonstrates the United States’ resolute commitment to protecting our country and combatting foreign terrorism,” United States Attorney Krueger said. “Individuals like Ludke who seek to provide material support to ISIS will be held accountable.”
“The FBI’s number one priority is protecting Americans from terrorism,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Justin Tolomeo. “I commend our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which includes our local, state and federal partners, for their investigative efforts in identifying and arresting Jason Ludke that prevented him from joining the ISIS terror group.”
Ludke faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a maximum term of supervised release of life, and a maximum fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. The sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the JTTF and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Kanter and Benjamin Taibleson and Trial Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman of the Department’s Counterterrorism Section.
Update Feb. 2019: Ludke Sentenced
According to the Milwaukee Journal, Ludke was sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release in Feb. 2019. Of interest, Ludke's lawyer said his client had spent all but 6 months of the last 18 years of his life in prison. Islam provided his client a sense of belonging, his attorney said. The U.S. Attorney requested 20 years in prison.
Update April 2019: Padilla-Conde Pleaded Guilty
According to the U.S. Department of Justice:
Matthew D. Krueger, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on April 22, 2019, Yosvany Padilla-Conde, of Milwaukee, pled guilty to aiding and abetting Jason Luedke’s attempt to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization – i.e., the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al’Sham (ISIS), and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B(a)(1).
Padilla-Conde is a Cuban national who resided in Milwaukee at the time of the offense. He agreed to assist and did assist Jason Ludke in Ludke’s attempt to join ISIS by traveling from Wisconsin through Mexico to Syria and Iraq. Ludke and Padilla-Conde knew that ISIS engaged in terrorist activity. Padilla-Conde also swore allegiance to ISIS and expressed his intent to travel to the Middle East in videos that an undercover employee (“UCE”) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and Ludke requested that he make. The videos were sent to the UCE, who Padilla-Conde believed was an ISIS recruiter. On October 5, 2016, Ludke and his coconspirator were traveling to the Texas/Mexico border in order to accomplish their plan to join ISIS, when law enforcement located and arrested them.
Ludke was convicted of conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization – i.e., ISIS – in 2018. He is currently incarcerated.
“National security is the Department of Justice’s first priority,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger. “Our commitment to national security means working to prevent acts of violence before they occur. Padilla-Conde swore allegiance to an extremely violent terrorist organization and then traveled across the country in an attempt to join it. This case underscores that homegrown violent extremism remains a very real threat. The case also highlights excellent collaboration by federal and local law enforcement to blunt the threat before innocent lives are taken.”
Acting Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin, said “Protecting Americans from terrorist threats is the highest priority of the FBI. We are dedicated to working around the clock, here in Wisconsin, with our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) partners at the local, state and federal level to keep our community safe from those seeking to provide support and resources to a known foreign terrorist organization.”
Padilla-Conde faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a maximum term of supervised release of life, and a maximum fine of $250,000. His sentencing is set for August 7, 2019 1:30 pm before Judge Lynn Adelman.
This conviction is the result of an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Taibleson and Trial Attorney Joseph Attias of the National Security Division.
Update Aug. 2019:
Padilla-Conde was sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison in Aug. 2019, according to the Milwaukee Journal. Padilla-Conde's defense attorney noted that his client, an illegal immigrant from Cuba, was a "man without a country" because he couldn't go back to his home country due to the diplomatic status between the U.S. and Cuba. He had a felony on his record so he couldn't apply to be a U.S. citizen either. He noted that neither of the two making the trek through the U.S. to Mexico to join ISIS had weapons or even skills that were a benefit to ISIS. And neither of them had any real chance of getting to Mexico, he argued.
Ludke and Padilla-Conde met in prison when both were serving time for earlier offenses.