A Muslim immigrant from Jordan, 20-year-old Nader Saadeh, has been charged with terrorism-related accounts after traveling to his home country with the intention of fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS).
News media have mostly scrubbed Saadeh’s immigrant status, but a criminal complaint published by the Justice Department reveals that he had dual citizenship with the U.S. and Jordan. He lived in New Jersey while allegedly working to draw up a “small army” of jihadis to join ISIS and attack landmarks such as the George Washington Bridge, according to NBC New York.
According to the criminal complaint, Saadeh and his brother Alaa lived with “Individual 1” for years after their parents were deported due to unspecified criminal convictions. Beginning in late October 2014, Saadeh became withdrawn and began to study the Koran. He also began to wear heavy, dark eyeliner, dye his beard red, and said that ISIS fighters were his “brothers.” He began to speak in Arabic instead of English, while boasting of his approval of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and ISIS’s burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot.
Individual 1 also overheard a conversation in which Alaa said that Saadeh was about to leave the U.S. He shaved off his beard, as per ISIS’s advice to blend in as a tourist. During a search of Individual 1’s home computer, FBI agents found that Saadeh said in 2012 “amreeka shale burn” for killing Anwar Al-Awlaki. Saadeh also said he wanted to be a “weapon’s maker” for his army.
After Edward Snowden leaked the National Security Agency’s mass spying programs in June 2013, Saadeh and a correspondent, later arrested for trying to provide support to ISIS as well, were worried that their Internet service provider gave “all of their information” to the NSA. “Man I feel it is hop[e]less to try to oppose these people,” Saadeh’s friend remarked.
“What can we do?” Saadeh replied. “[R]eally want to leave this country.”
Then the correspondent replied: “in shall ALLAH [God willing] why leave [?] we already infiltrated.”
“Truu now we finish this conversation in person,” Saadeh typed.
Saadeh began in 2014 to watch videos promoted by ISIS showing fellow Muslims behead and bomb their victims, while searching for airline tickets to Turkey. Saadeh’s mother abroad begged him not to join ISIS: “do not listen to them they are liers [sic],” she wrote, according to Arabic emails recovered by officials, “do not go anywhere if u love me dont [sic] kill your mom.”
Another email told Saadeh that ISIS was a creation of Western countries leading Muslims astray.
“If you go without your parent’s approval, jihad will not be accepting of you,” read the email from a different individual, telling Saadeh to wage jihad in Morocco or Jerusalem. “Believe me, my dear, the time of jihad is not with those people. God willing, my God will bless us with the right martydom in the land of Rabat, Jerusalem… Be alert, [ISIS] is made by the cursed West.”
Nonetheless, on May 5, 2015, Saadeh flew from JFK to Amman, Jordan. He was later detained and held in solitary confinement, alarming his father, who told Alaa to delete everything off of his phone and lay low. Alaa passed the message onto co-conspirators, later telling Individual 1 he would like to travel to Jordan as well, adding that the United States is a terrorist country because it “oppresses” its own people.
Saadeh was extradited back to the U.S. and now faces up to 20 years in prison. It’s likely he will be allowed to remain in the U.S. after serving a possible sentence.
This is far from the first incident of its kind. Many Muslims in the U.S. have been arrested and hit with terrorism-related charges for trying to support ISIS. Arafat M. Nagi, a U.S. citizen, flew back and forth from Syria and Yemen in 2012 and 2014 and was arrested after trying to join ISIS in July. He lived only a block from six other Yemeni-Americans booked in 2003 after providing support to al-Qaeda. The day before in Florida, police arrested Harlem Suarez for plotting to plant a bomb on a Florida beach on behalf of ISIS. Justin Nojan Sullivan, an Islamic convert in North Carolina wanted to kill 1,000 Americans and was arrested on charges of trying to help ISIS. An ISIS recruit in Ohio vowed to behead his non-believing son.
As Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions stressed after a Kuwaiti immigrant shot and killed five servicemen in July, the government voluntarily imports dangerous Muslims who wage holy war on America and bestows them with citizenship, making them impossible to deport.
“These individuals below did not hop a border fence or a dig a tunnel: they, like the 9/11 hijackers, applied for entry and were approved”:
- The Boston Bombers were invited in as refugees. The younger brother applied for citizenship and was naturalized on September 11th, 2012. The older brother had a pending application for citizenship.
- A Moroccan national who came to the U.S. on a student visa was arrested for plotting to blow up a university and a federal court house.
- 7 Somali-Americans in Minnesota have recently been charged with trying to join ISIS. The Washington Times reported that “the effort [to resettle large groups of Somali refugees in Minnesota] is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.”
- An Uzbek refugee living in Idaho was arrested and charged with providing support to a terrorist organization, in the form of teaching terror recruits how to build bombs.
- An American citizen whose family is from Syria was sentenced for plotting to support ISIS and rob a gun store to kill members of the American military.
- An immigrant from Syria, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was accused by federal prosecutors of planning to “go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.”
- A college student who immigrated from Somalia, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, attempted to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.
- An immigrant from Afghanistan, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, and a legal permanent resident from the Philippines, were convicted for “join Al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to kill Americans.”
- An Iraqi immigrant, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for lying to federal agents about pledging allegiance to ISIS and his travels to Syria.
- Two immigrants from Pakistan, who later applied for and received U.S citizenship, were sentenced to decades-long prison sentences for plotting to detonate a bomb in New York City.
- An immigrant from Yemen, who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship, was arrested for trying to join ISIS. He was also charged with attempting to illegally buy firearms to try to shoot American military personnel.”
Like the above examples—which is by no means is an exhaustive list—Saadeh and his family were welcomed into the U.S.
Email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @k_mcq.