2 Milwaukee men charged with attempting to support ISIS

Posted at 3:38 PM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-14 23:11:15-04

MILWAUKEE -- Two Milwaukee men have been charged with attempting to provide support to the terrorist group ISIS, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

35-year-old Jason Michael Ludke has been charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. 30-year-old Yosvany Padilla-Conde was charged with aiding and abetting Ludke's attempt.

The Justice Department says the two men were arrested by the FBI and local law enforcement near San Angelo, Texas. They were allegedly trying to travel to Mexico, where they hoped to gather "aid and documents" necessary to travel to Syria and/or Iraq.

"Terrorism remains the FBI's top priority in keeping Americans safe. The arrest of these two individuals from Wisconsin underscores how the real threat of terrorism can occur anywhere, at anytime," Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Justin Tolomeo said. "We encourage all citizens to remain vigilant in reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement."

An online friendship first put the FBI onto Ludke. According to court records, he was chatting with someone he thought could help him join ISIS. That man was really an undercover FBI agent.

Investigators say Ludke told the agent "he's tired of living under the infidel's system."

Ludke has a checkered criminal history in Wisconsin. He's a convicted sex offender and admitted drug user who converted to Islam in 2003.  During a hearing last year in Green Bay, Ludke said he had changed.

According to records, Ludke said, "He volunteers by speaking to the kids at the mosque, telling them what he went through and what led up to him doing drugs and abusing alcohol."

But last month, investigators say he started talking with the FBI agent about ISIS. He said his friend, Padilla-Conde, was also interested.

Ludke allegedly told investigators that Padilla-Conde "had received firearms training from his time in the military in Cuba."

Court records show they made videos pledging their allegiance to ISIS. At the end of September, Ludke said he cut off his ankle monitor and traveled to Texas with Padilla-Conde "where they would sleep in parking lots of mosques."

If convicted, both men face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.