Terror suspect from Queens made several attempts to join ISIS abroad: Feds

By Sadef Ali Kully

A young Queens man was arrested Thursday morning and charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, the foreign terrorist organization, federal prosecutors said.

According to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, 22-year old U.S. citizen Ali Saleh, who live in Jamaica, allegedly made multiple attempts to travel to the Middle East to join the notorious terrorist organization ISIS, also known as ISIL.

Saleh was arraigned before U.S. District Judge Roanne Mann in Brooklyn federal court.

Federal investigators had been watching Saleh’s social media activity since last year. In August 2014, he made a flight reservation to travel from Kennedy Airport to Istanbul, Turkey just a few days after he tweeted: “I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing,” the complaint said. Saleh was ultimately unable to travel last year in August because his parents took away his passport. But his parents’ attempt to stop his travels did not end his pursuit to join ISIS overseas, according to federal prosecutors.

Between July 23 and Aug. 5, 2015, Saleh again made repeated attempts to travel overseas. In his first attempt, he wentto JFK to board a Qatar Airways flight on a one way-ticket to Cairo. He was questioned by airport law officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and then denied a ticket. Later in the day, law enforcement agents observed him at Newark Airport trying to board another flight to go overseas. Prosecutors said the next day Saleh took a train to Philadelphia, approached an airline ticket counter where he was again turned away and where federal agents questioned him again.

The criminal complaint said Saleh told the agents he was leaving for Yemen and that his parents would be upset if they found out about his trips. He was asked about ISIS, investigators said, and in the criminal complaint he was quoted as saying about ISIS: “It’s hard to figure out who’s right or who’s wrong.”

But his attempts continued, Saleh traveled July 30 to Indianapolis International Airport, where he was again stopped by federal investigators, the complaint said. He told law enforcements agents he had lived in Fort Wayne, Ind. for several months but was originally from Jamaica. Then on Aug. 2, Saleh attempted to board a train to Canada, but investigators stopped him and said he would be denied entrance into Canada. Saleh then changed his train ticket destination to Cleveland and left the train station.

In between these attempts to travel overseas and join ISIS, the criminal complaint said Saleh had four different Twitter accounts, which constantly tweeted out rhetoric supporting the terrorist organization ISIS and communication with ISIS facilitators.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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