Ali Muhammad Brown, who has been accused of killing four individuals in New Jersey and Washington State, was inspired to do so by the Islamic State terrorist organization, state prosecutors in New Jersey said Wednesday, noting he kept a journal that expressed such thoughts. Notably, the Islamic State’s rise to infamy occurred within the same time frame as Brown’s alleged murders.
Brown was already placed on a federal terror watch list when he carried out the killings, a spokesperson from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office told Reuters.
New Jersey authorities claim Brown is responsible for the murder of 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin, who was driving through West Orange, New Jersey. Tevlin, a University of Richmond student, was executed while stopped at a traffic light on his way home to Livingston, New Jersey.
The alleged jihadi is also accused of killing three people in Washington state.
He shot to death 30-year-old Leroy Henderson in the city of Skyway, Washington in April, 2014, prosecutors say.
He also allegedly killed two young men, Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young, outside of a Seattle nightclub in June 2014
In his journal, Brown “described himself as a strict Muslim,” Reuters reports, adding he was motivated to kill in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, citing court documents.
“Follow the Islamic State,” Brown wrote in his journal, according to prosecutors. The journal offered “great insight into the defendant’s criminality and his intent to target the citizens of this community,” they added.
He took an interest in receiving training from radical jihadist groups, prosecutors added in their court declaration.
Brown has already been sentenced to 36 years in prison after he was charged with committing armed robbery. He faces a separate trial for the murders of the four individuals from New Jersey and Washington.
This will be the first time that New Jersey has enacted its anti-terrorism statute, which was passed following the September 11 attacks by Al Qaeda terrorists.
The Islamic State has existed in some form since at least 1999 under different aliases. But the group’s rise, along with its declaration of an Islamic caliphate in June, 2014, occurred within the same timeframe as Brown’s alleged killing spree.
In late 2014, prosecutor’s said of the jihadi’s motives:
The defendant was on a bloody crusade, executing four innocent men — with the same murder weapon, over the course of approximately two months, and all under the common and single scheme of exacting ‘vengeance’ against the United States government for its foreign policies.