Two New Jersey men arrested at a New York airport planned to travel to Somalia to “wage violent jihad,” and also had expressed a willingness to commit violent acts in the United States, according to prosecutors and a federal criminal complaint.
Mohamed Mahmoud Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, New Jersey, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, of Elmwood Park, New Jersey, were taken into custody Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The two intended to take separate flights to Egypt on their way to Somalia “to join designated foreign terrorist organization al-Shabaab and wage violent jihad,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The two are charged with conspiring to kill, maim and kidnap people outside the United States, according to court documents.
The FBI received a tip regarding the men’s activities in October 2006, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.
The tip, from someone who knew the men, said, “Every time they access the Internet all they look for is all those terrorist videos. … They keep saying that Americans are their enemies, that everybody other than Islamic followers are their enemies … and they all must be killed.”
As part of the investigation, an undercover officer with the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit “recorded numerous meetings and conversation” with the two men, prosecutors said.
During those meetings, they discussed a plan under which they would save thousands of dollars and physically condition themselves through paintball and other training, then acquire military gear and apparel for use overseas, and buy plane tickets to Egypt with the intent to travel to Somalia.
“The defendants also discussed their obligation to wage violent jihad and at times expressed a willingness to commit acts of violence in the United States,” prosecutors said.