Man Arrested in NYC Airport Trying to Join Islamic State in Syria

Zaid Benjamin/Twitter
Zaid Benjamin/Twitter/screenshot

Saddam Mohamed Raishani was arrested Wednesday night at JFK International Airport and has been charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS).

Court documents reveal that he advised an individual – who, unbeknownst to him, was an undercover law enforcement officer – that the individual could pose as a “refugee aid worker” while traveling to join the Islamic State in order to avoid questioning from authorities at international borders.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement from the Department of Justice:

As alleged, Saddam Mohamed Raishani, a Bronx man, plotted to travel to Syria to join and train with the terrorist organization ISIS. Having already helped another man make that trip to ISIS’s heartland, Raishani allegedly acted on his own desire to wage violent jihad, planning to leave his family and life in New York City for the battlefields of the Middle East.

A criminal complaint filed on Thursday alleges that Raishani, who also goes by Adam Raishani, contacted in January an individual contacted an individual who Raishani did not know was a confidential source (CS). Raishani met with the CS and stated that he had helped a friend join the Islamic State some time ago. Before the friend’s departure, Raishani took the friend shopping for supplies to take to ISIS, later giving that person money and a ride to the airport to fly to join ISIS.

In a subsequent meeting between Raishani and the CS, Raishani said he regretted not leaving with his friend and, according to the complaint, “indicated his desire to wage jihad and his belief that the Quran can be read to justify the violence, including beheadings, engaged in by ISIS.”

The CS introduce Raishani to an undercover law enforcement officer, according to the court document. Raishani allegedly showed the officer “a video that appeared to depict ISIS supporters discussing their desire to travel overseas to join ISIS and its ongoing fight.” Raishani also showed the CS and undercover officer “an ISIS video that appeared to depict ISIS members in Yemen killing civilians who did not support ISIS.”

The complaint also detailed Raishani’s instructions to the CS and undercover officer on how they could travel to join ISIS and avoid detection. He said that he could pose as a nurse and that the undercover officer “could pose as a refugee aid worker, in order to cross international borders without being stopped and questioned by authorities.”

In May Raishani told yet another undercover individual, this one with the FBI, that he was looking to travel to Syria to join ISIS and intended to do so before the end of Ramadan. Raishani planned to travel to Turkey, meet with an ISIS member there and travel on to Syria.

Raishani arrived at the JFK airport on June 21 to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey via Lisbon, Portugal. He was arrested at JFK after attempting to board the flight.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 


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