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FBI: NYC man tried to help and join Islamic State group

September 17, 2015 By Jake Pearson Associated Press
Brooklyn federal court. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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A man was arrested Thursday on charges he tried to help the Islamic State group, using Twitter to espouse support for the terrorist organization while attempting multiple failed trips to join fighters in Syria and Yemen.

Between September 2014 and last month, Ali Saleh stopped at airports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Indianapolis, according to unsealed court papers. The 22-year-old Saleh was interviewed by federal agents at an Amtrak station in Cleveland while en route to Toronto before he was finally arrested in Queens, according to the papers.

“Lets 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 posted on a Twitter account investigators believe he controlled in August, when he booked a reservation to Turkey, a common point of entry to Syria, according to a criminal complaint.

That trip was thwarted after his parents took away his passport, the court papers show.

But Saleh had further contact with a co-conspirator about his travels as well as someone who encouraged those interested in joining the Islamic State group in Libya to contact him over social media, according to the criminal complaint.

An attorney for Saleh hasn’t returned a message seeking comment. Saleh was expected to appear before a judge in Brooklyn federal court later Thursday.

In the criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Bret C. Luhmann wrote that Saleh told investigators in interviews before his arrest that he developed an interest in the Islamic State group and the war in Syria in 2013 and had sworn an oath of allegiance to the group.

But during one such interview in a hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in July, Saleh told law enforcement agents he wanted to go to Yemen to join Sunni fighters near the city of Yafa, and he wouldn’t join terrorist groups such as al-Qaida or the IS group, Luhmann wrote.

Weeks later, after returning to New York, Saleh posted from a Twitter account “an audio message entitled, ‘Come and join the Caliphate,'” Luhmann wrote.


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