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NY man about to join ISIS is arrested, pleads guilty

The New York State Supreme Court courthouse at 60 Center Street on Foley Square in the Civic Center district of Manhattan, New York City. (Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons)
November 15, 2018

Adam Raishani, aka “Saddam Mohamed Raishani,” 32, of the Bronx, New York, appeared before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams and pleaded guilty to provide material support to ISIS.

Raishani allegedly collaborated with another ISIS supporter (CC-1) to travel abroad and fight for ISIS, according to a Justice Department statement on Wednesday.

Raishani pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 8, 2019 before Judge Abrams.

In Oct. 2015, CC-1 took a flight to Istanbul, Turkey from JFK Airport. He planned to enter Syria and join ISIS. Court records show that Raishani arranged for CC-1’s transportation from the Bronx to John F. Kennedy International Airport, and accompanied CC-1.

Around Jan. 2, 2016, Raishani sent an email to CC-1 that said, “Glad tidings brother. Its [sic] been some time since your voyage. I pray to Allah The ALL MIGHTY to grant you success. Until next time.”

On April 1, 2016, Raishani sent another email to CC-1 stating: “I hope Allah has bestowed you what you were seeking. . .. May Allah grant you sincere and clean intentions and make you among the righteous in Janatal Firdaus [a reference to Islamic paradise] . . .. Please return this email and respond to what we agreed upon before your departure. Until next time.”

On or about May 3, 2016, CC-1 responded to Raishani, indicating that he had succeeded in joining the Islamic State.

CC-1 told Raishani that he was “fine and well,” that CC-1 “wished you [Raishani] were here with me,” and that “here we are living with izza [honor].”

In May 2016, CC-1 posted content on social media indicating that he was living in the Islamic State and fighting on its behalf.

CC-1 sent messages to another social media user stating, “I’m living in the Islamic state safely and secure by the permission of Allah,” “[h]ere we are fighting the kuffars [non-believers],” and “I left the land of kuffars now I’m living in the khilafah [the caliphate].”

He also posted a photo on social media that showed him carrying an assault rifle and an ISIS flag.

Raishani began communicating with a confidential informant between January and June 2017, who was working with police. He admitted to the informant that he had helped CC-1 travel overseas to join the Islamic State and stated that he intended to travel overseas to join ISIS himself.

Raishani downloaded and watched violent ISIS propaganda videos and indicated his desire to wage jihad. He believed that the Quran can be read to justify the violence, including beheadings, engaged in by ISIS.

In April 2017, Raishani was aggressively arranging to travel abroad to join ISIS. He wanted to travel before the end of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month that ran from May 26 through June 24 of 2017.

In June 2017, Raishani made preparations to leave, including by paying off debts and buying clothing that he intended to wear for training with ISIS.

Raishani told the informant that he planned to meet an ISIS member in Turkey who would help him sneak into Syria and join ISIS. Shortly after, Raishani was apprehended at Kennedy Airport where he planned to board a plane to Turkey.

After his arrest, police found evidence in Raishani’s Bronx home, including a letter from Raishani addressed to his family.

That letter told his wife that she could still join him in Syria with their young son, if she chose to. He expressed regret that she did not share his radical views and that he had been unable to convince her to accompany him to join ISIS.

Raishani wrote, “Do Not Divulge this document and other documents that I have giv[en] to you to the authorities.  Do not believe their plots.  Do not divulge my absences but instead say I went to do volunteering outside the country with my medical skills and health background,” the New York Daily News reported.