US Army deserter converts to Islam; wanted to kill agents
A U.S. Army deserter who called Osama bin Laden ‘a beautiful man,’ made pro-Islamic State statements and called for the death of American troops has been arrested on weapons charges, federal prosecutors said.
Daniel Seth Franey, 33, of Montesano, Washington was banned from having guns because he was subject to a protection order taken out by his former partner in 2014.
However, he nevertheless joined an undercover agent in making what he believed were black-market gun deliveries, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
At one point, he fired an AK-47 at a remote campground with the agent, the complaint said.
Franey was arrested without incident on Saturday as agents served a ‘no-knock’ search warrant at his home.
An affidavit filed in support of the warrant alleged that he had behaved increasingly erratically in recent weeks.
He was seen driving slowly in a parking lot at the non-operational Satsop Nuclear Power Plant; his visits to the homes of two neighbors prompted calls to 911; he made apparent references to attacking a nearby campground that’s only open to military members, retirees and their families; and he told the undercover agent on January 29, ‘I do really wanna kill agents,’ the affidavit said.
‘Franey has repeatedly stated that he wants to attack, fight and kill law enforcement officers if and when they made entry into his residence,’ the agent wrote in asking for the warrant.
‘Although we believe Franey does not currently possess any firearms, this is by no means a certainty.’
The investigation began last year, after several people complained to law enforcement that Franey was making pro-Islamic State statements, an agent with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force wrote.
One person said Franey tried to buy his or her AK-47 and insisted that the person should fly an IS flag at home — a confrontation that ended only after the person grabbed a shotgun and called police, the documents said.
At one point, Franey allegedly told the undercover FBI agent that he considered himself an ISIS soldier ‘as much as the brothers over there,’ according to ABC News.
He also is said to have described Osama bin Laden as a ‘diamond’ and called ISIS ‘the best people on Earth,’ according to the FBI.
Franey made an initial court appearance on Monday and was ordered detained pending further proceedings, Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said.
He faces five counts of unlawful gun possession but no terrorism charges.
He was represented by a public defender who did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Following the complaints about Franey, the undercover agent posed as a black-market gun dealer, and Franey joined him on trips as a ‘lookout’ who was paid a few hundred dollars for his services, charging papers said.
In recorded conversations, he made reference to possibly attacking soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and traveling overseas to join the radical militants.
However, he variously said he did not want to kill anyone and that he only wanted a gun to have at home for protection from law enforcement, the court papers said.
He also reportedly said the trip to the campground near Naches, northwest of Yakima, was the first time he had fired a gun in about six years.
The gun possession charges stem from his handling of weapons on the gun-delivery trips, including to eastern Washington and California, which were set up by the agent and involved other undercover officers, the charging documents say.
Franey constantly asked the agent to procure guns for him, without success, authorities said.
‘This defendant possessed firearms, including machine guns, even though he knew he was prohibited from doing so,’ Seattle U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said.
‘He also discussed attacking members of the military and law enforcement.’
Franey served in the Army from 2002 to 2008 and was stationed in Texas and South Korea, the complaint said, adding that he told various people — including an undercover officer — that he had deserted military, and that Department of Defense records corroborated that.