Two Men Arrested for Terrorism at Kennedy Aiport
Two New Jersey men who were bound for Somalia to join an Islamic extremist group and to kill American troops were arrested at Kennedy International Airport on 6/6. The men, Mohamed Haoud Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, were to join Al Shabaab, which claims ideological kinship with Al Qaeda and which was thought to have provided a haven to Qaeda operatives wanted for bombings of United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The men were taken into custody as they prepared to take separate flights to Egypt, the first leg of their journey to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, the officials said in a news release.
The two men, both United States citizens — Mr. Almonte lives in Elmwood Park, N.J., and Mr. Alessa in North Bergen, N.J. — physically conditioned themselves, engaged in paintball and tactical training, saved thousands of dollars for their trip acquired military gear and apparel, according to the criminal complaint. They talked about what they said was their obligation to wage violent jihad and at times expressed a willingness to commit acts of violence in the United States, the complaint said.
According to a senior law enforcement official in Washington, the two young men did not have any specific overseas contacts in Somalia or elsewhere in the region. “It seems they were planning to take things as they went once they got there,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The planned trip to Egypt was not the first that the two young men had taken in an effort to wage violent jihad, according to the complaint. Mr. Almonte and Mr. Alessa traveled to Jordan in early 2007, and Mr. Almonte told the undercover that they had sought unsuccessfully to become mujahideen fighters and were “upset with the individuals who failed to recruit them,” the complaint said.
The two men were taken into custody at the airport based on arrest warrants issued by the United States District Court in Newark, according to the news release. Both were charged in the criminal complaint with a single count of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM, NY Times