Daniel Seth Franey, a 33-year-old Montesano man who repeatedly talked about harming military personnel and law enforcement officials out of allegiance with radical Islamic ideology, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for illegally possessing firearms.
Franey was arrested in February of 2016 after a months-long undercover operation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Franey was befriended by a government agent who was posing as an arms dealer. During that time, the government asserted, he shot weapons provided by the agent and tried to get the undercover agent to provide him with a weapon. As a result of a domestic violence conviction in Illinois several years ago, he was not allowed to legally own or possess a weapon and the government based much of its case against him on times he fired a weapon in the presence of the agent.
During the investigation, officials obtained audio of Franey attempting to acquire firearms, including AK-47 assault rifles, and discussing “good targets for an attack.” In the recordings, Franey repeatedly declared support for the Islamic State group and threatened to kill local and federal law enforcement officers and attack a military facility.
Franey, who sometimes identified himself as Abu Dawuud, had worked as a commercial fisherman and lived on the outskirts of Montesano with a female partner and two children.
At the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Tacoma U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said he was concerned about “the persistent nature of the threats” to the military and law enforcement and Franey’s history of domestic violence.
“This defendant espoused his jihadist ideology and talked about his desire to kill police and military officers with nearly everyone he met,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “His talk turned to action when he tried repeatedly to obtain high-powered weapons and ammunition, and identified a target for his attack. This sentence will protect the public from this defendant who remains dangerous.”
According to the plea agreement and other records filed in the case, Franey handled several firearms on multiple occasions and also discharged fully automatic machine guns between September and November of 2015. He did so while acknowledging he knew he was legally prohibited from possessing firearms stemming from a protection order filed against him in Illinois. Document details also reveal several contacts he had with law enforcement and says that in one of them Franey said he believed there would someday be a “federal standoff at my house.”
Most neighbors contacted after the arrest were reluctant to be interviewed by The Daily World or talk about Franey, but one woman said he was a nice man with a young family.
“He’s always been very friendly to me,” she told The Daily World at the time. “I’ve never had any fear or any concern for my well-being or anything like that.”
The woman also said she knew Franey was a practicing Muslim, but thought nothing of it.
“I know he has his views and religion and stuff. Everybody has a right to their own beliefs,” she said with a shrug. “It’s hard to explain — we’re neighbors and we treated each other accordingly as neighbors.”
In December of 2015, Franey was associated with an incident in which Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a slew of calls about a man walking down a Montesano area road dressed in what appeared to be traditional Middle Eastern clothing. That man, a teenager from Portland, was staying at Franey’s home, Franey told The Daily World at the time.
In late January, Franey was pulled over by local police for outdated tags on a Lincoln limosine he drove, and for making a turn without using his signal, according to court documents. He reportedly became “aggressive and belligerent” with the officer and made several comments about police oppression. He also spoke in what sounded like Arabic, the documents say, and told the officer, “It means ISIS.”
Court records also show that Franey drove in his Lincoln Towncar limo to the Satsop Business Park, which was built originally as a nuclear plant, but never completed. He flagged down an employee, and asked if the two large cooling towers at the park were operational and if there was a restaurant on the premises. The employee, the documents say, regarded the incident as suspicious and reported it to local authorities.
Franey became the target of the federal investigation following reports from members of the public that they had heard him espouse violent rhetoric, particularly in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The citizen reports indicated Franey had made statements advocating the killing of non-Muslim Americans, particularly members of the U.S. military and law enforcement. One citizen reported that Franey repeatedly asked to purchase a firearm from the citizen, despite Franey’s admissions that he was not legally allowed to possess firearms.
Roughly 60 pages of court documents describe Franey’s comments and actions when he was with the undercover agent. In talking about potential military targets, including Joint Base Lewis McChord, Franey allegedly referenced what he said was a military gathering near Ocean Shores. The document quotes him as saying: “There’s a few spots around here, too, that wouldn’t be bad to hit, you know. They put the generals and colonels up a few weeks out of the summer at this place north of Ocean Shores, this big resort. … They rent out this huge resort for all these colonels and generals to come party at. … We could kill them all.”
Franey was likely referring to the Pacific Beach Resort and Conference Center, which was once a small Navy base, but has been converted into a resort catering to military families, regardless of rank.
Franey then told the undercover agent that he could, “bring 100 brothers or 50” to help with the attack. Court documents state during a conversation with the undercover officer, Franey said, “Any government agents that I’m around, I feel the duty to kill.”