A 22-year-old man who claimed to be “ready to die” for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) was arrested at his Queens home by federal agents Thursday morning for allegedly making efforts to support the Mideast terrorist group.
Ali Saleh, whose exact address was not disclosed, allegedly made multiple unsuccessful attempts to travel to the area under ISIS control. His first failed attempt reportedly came when he booked a reservation for a flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Istanbul, which he did not make.
“I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing,” he allegedly tweeted days before the scheduled flight.
In July of this year, prosecutors said, Saleh made additional attempts to travel to the Middle East and support ISIS, initially booking a flight from JFK to Cairo, Egypt. He allegedly used his Twitter account to reach out to an ISIS supporter known to instruct followers on how to travel to Libya, where ISIS is also present.
But Saleh did not board the flight to Cairo after speaking with airline personnel, federal agents said. In the days that followed, he made additional attempts to board flights bound for the Middle East out of Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International airports, only to be refused boarding.
Undeterred, authorities noted, Saleh then traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, and attempted to board a train bound for Toronto, Canada, with the alleged intention of picking up a flight there to the Middle East. When Canadian authorities denied him permission to board the train to enter Canada, according to the criminal complaint, Saleh took a train back to New York City.
“Saleh was relentless in his attempts to travel to the Middle East to join a terrorist organization,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Kelly Currie.
“By his own words, Ali Saleh was willing to pledge allegiance to, and die for ISIL, an organization that has called for terrorist attacks against the United States,” added Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “Saleh’s attempts to travel to Syria and ISIL’s battlefields were halted by good intelligence and smart law enforcement.”
Saleh is the latest Queens resident to be busted for allegedly attempting to support terrorist organizations. In April, two Jamaica women were indicted on accusations of plotting an attack within the U.S. using, as one example, explosive devices similar to those used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Then in June, a 20-year-old Flushing man named Munther Omar Saleh (no reported relation) was arrested on charges of attempting to support ISIS.