An administrator at a New Jersey high school says one of two terrorism suspects over the weekend was considered so dangerous as a student that he was taught outside the classroom with a security guard present.
North Bergen High School spokesman Paul Swibinski tells the New York Post and the Record of New Jersey that Mohamed Mahmood Alessa was placed "on home instruction'' three months after starting at the school in 2004.
Swibinski says administrators feared for the safety of other students and staff. He did not say what made them consider Alessa to be dangerous.
Authorities say the 20-year-old Alessa and 24-year-old Carlos Eduardo Almonte tried to fly out of New York's Kennedy Airport on Saturday in hopes of getting terrorism training in Somalia.
"Nobody likes him," Almonte's sister, Heidi, said of Alessa. "He's not a good influence," she told the Post.
State and federal law enforcement agents say they have been investigating Alessa and Almonte since 2006. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Alessa, of North Bergen, and Almonte, of Elmwood Park, tried to enter Iraq on a 2007 trip to Jordan, but both were denied entry at the Jordanian-Iraqi border.
Both are American citiizens.
"We thought he was a normal kid. He wasn't a religious person. We didn't know anything about that," Pedro Almonte, father of Carlos, told the Star-Ledger outside his home Monday morning. "I can't stand that religion--everybody knows that," he said referring to Islamic fundamentalism.
The pair had no known connections to terrorist groups, and their planned trip to Somalia apparently amounted to a leap of faith that they'd be embraced by the jihadists.
The men were believed to be joining up with al Shabaab, an Islamist group based in southern Somalia. Al Shabaab, whose full name means "Mujahideen Youth Movement," is reported to have had ties to al-Qaida since 2007.