Jamaica man sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to support and fight for ISIS: Feds

Militant Islamist fighters waving flags, travel in vehicles as they take part in a military parade along streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province
Militant Islamist fighters waving flags, travel in vehicles as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (Photo via REUTERS)

A Jamaica man was sentenced to more than three decades in prison in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday, Nov. 17, for attempting to provide material support to ISIS after declaring that he was “ready to die” for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq beginning in 2013, according to federal prosecutors.

Ali Saleh, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II to 30 years in prison for attempting to support the designated foreign terrorist organization. Saleh pleaded guilty to the charge in 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Saleh was also sentenced to 100 months in prison for assaulting a federal correctional office and possessing contraband at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, to run consecutive to the terrorism sentence.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates the strong commitment of this office and its law enforcement partners to rooting out and prosecuting dangerous jihadists like Saleh and stopping their efforts to support terrorist attacks at home or abroad,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “Saleh is also held accountable for his vicious and premeditated attack on a federal correctional officer while in pre-trial detention.”

According to court filings, Saleh made several attempts to travel to the Middle East to become a foreign fighter for ISIS after becoming interested in the Syria conflict in 2013. On Aug. 25, 2014, Saleh stated online, “I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing.”

Just three days later on Aug. 28, Saleh made an airline reservation to travel from New York to Turkey, and stated online, “Let’s be clear the Muslims in the khilafah [caliphate] need help, the one who is capable to go over and help the Muslims must go and help.” Saleh was ultimately prevented from getting on the plane because his parents took away his passport.

Saleh then switched gears and began to try and facilitate others’ support for ISIS, according to court filings. In October 2014, Saleh used an online messaging platform to communicate with an ISIS supporter in Mali, sending him a wire transfer in the amount of $500 to fund that person’s travel to Syria.

Around the same time period, Saleh reportedly communicated with several other individuals, including known ISIS supporters in the United Kingdom and Australia, in an effort to facilitate their support of ISIS.

“Saleh made numerous attempts to travel overseas to join ISIS, and when those efforts failed, attempted to assist others in joining the terrorist organization,” said Matthew G. Olsen, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “With the sentences handed down today, he is being held accountable for these crimes.”

According to court filings, over a 10-day period in 2015, Saleh made five separate attempts to travel to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. In September of 2015, Saleh was arrested at his Jamaica home by agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. They recovered a duffle bag full of survival gear as well as a black trunk containing 29 machetes.

“Ali Saleh’s attempts to support ISIS, and his subsequent attack on a federal correctional officer, resulted in the penalties enforced on him today,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said. “The FBI’s JTTF here in New York, along with our partners, continues to lead the way in presenting and intercepting threats posed by those like Saleh, who seek to harm our citizens at home and overseas.”

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