Two New Jersey men accused of trying to join a terrorist group in Somalia face a bail hearing in federal court in Newark Thursday.
Federal Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo denied bail Thursday afternoon to two New Jersey men arrested Saturday night at JFK airport in what federal authorities said was a conspiracy to go to Somalia to train to become terrorists.
"We do not have a bail package to present at this time," Public Defender David Holman said of his client, Mohamed Alessa, 20, of North Bergen, N.J.
The attorney for Calos Almonte, James Patton, said the same for his client.
Moments earlier, one woman wearing a head scarf cried as Alessa walked into the courtroom with his hands and ankles manacled.
Sitting next to her were two other women wearing burkas that fully covered their faces. It wasn't clear whether either of the three were a relative or simply a family friend.
Andrew Elliott, a man describing himself as an acquaintance of Alessa, said the two prayed together at the same mosque in Union City.
He described Alessa as "immature" and added, "He's always been a kid who has gotten into trouble--he was a troubled teenager."
Both suspects were described as flight risks facing life in prison by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kogan.
Magistrate Arleo noted both suspects have dual citizenship. In addition to their American citizenship, Alessa has citizenship status in Jordania and Almonte has it in the Dominican Republic.
"There is no condition that would reasonably assure their appearance," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kogan.
Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY