2 NJ Men Arrested at Airport Before Leaving to Join al-Qaida

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NPR News

Two New Jersey men were arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday as they tried to leave the U.S. to join an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia, according to the Justice Department.

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 26, were arrested Saturday before they could board separate flights to Egypt and then continue on to Somalia, federal officials in New Jersey and the New York Police Department said in a news release.

The investigation of the pair began more than four years ago when law enforcement received a tip that the two were allegedly growing more interested in radical Islam.

During the lengthy investigation, an NYPD undercover officer recorded conversations with the men, in which they spoke about jihad against Americans.

“I leave this time. God willing, I never come back,” authorities say Alessa told the officer last year. “Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that.”

They allegedly talked about various ways to attack Americans and other non-Muslims both in the U.S. and abroad. They eventually decided to join al-Shabab — an Islamic militia in Somalia linked to al-Qaida — so they could train for battle. Al-Shabab is the same group that recruited more than two dozen young Somalis from the Minneapolis area to fight in Somalia over the past two years. It was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group in 2008. Read more


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