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Queens man pleads guilty to providing support for ISIS, faces up to 35 years in prison

Computer Screen (Yosomono/Flickr)
July 26, 2018

Ali Saleh, 25, of Queens, New York, pleaded guilty this week to two counts of attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

Court filings said that Saleh was arrested after repeatedly attempting to travel to the Middle East to become a foreign fighter for ISIS, according to the Justice Department.

Saleh faces up to 35 years in prison. His plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge William Kuntz II.

From 2013 on, Saleh became interested in the conflict in Syria, swore an oath of allegiance to ISIS and decided to travel to the Middle East in support of ISIS, the DOJ said.

On Aug. 25, 2014, Saleh stated online: “I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing.”

And on Aug. 28, 2014, Saleh wrote 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.”

That same day, Saleh made an airline reservation to travel from New York to Turkey, but was prevented from traveling because his parents took his passport away.

In October 2014, Saleh communicated with an ISIS supporter in Mali through an online messaging platform and sent a wire transfer in the amount of $500 to fund that person’s travel to Syria.

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

In July 2015, the defendant purchased fireworks containing explosive powder, hid them in a concealed compartment in the trunk of his car, and drove from Indiana toward New York City.

Saleh’s car broke down on the way to New York City and he abandoned it.

The fireworks contained approximately 1,196 grams of low explosive powder, consisting of both pyrotechnic material and black powder.

Law enforcement agents located a cellphone belonging to Saleh that contained an electronic pamphlet providing detailed instructions on how to create a bomb using explosive powder from fireworks.

On July 24, 2015, Saleh made a reservation to travel from New York to Egypt but was denied boarding.

He visited three additional international airports in Newark, Philadelphia and Indianapolis, but continued to encounter travel restrictions, the DOJ said.

Saleh then planned to take a train from Cleveland to Canada, where he intended to fly out to the Middle East.

After law enforcement intervention, Saleh did not board the train and instead returned to New York.

On Aug. 24, 2015, he stated online: “I am a terrorist.”

On Sept. 1, 2015, the defendant said: “If they aren’t implementing shariah [Islamic law] grab ur gun and implement shariah and see how fast the world turns against u.”

That same day, the defendant also stated online: “Akhi [brother] if implementing sharia [Islamic law] is easy do it in ur neighborhood and defend it from kuffar [the infidels] and give bayah [an oath of allegiance] to IS.”