The FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested a 21-year-old Staten Island man who allegedly repeatedly tried to stab an FBI agent with a kitchen knife Wednesday as officers attempted to search his home in connection with an ongoing ISIS-related investigation involving a Queens college student arrested over the weekend, according to court documents.
Fareed Mumuni was charged Wednesday with attempting to murder an FBI agent, though no serious injuries were reported in the scuffle, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and trying to assist the terror group in carrying out an attack in the New York area, according to the complaint.
After his arrest, Mumuni allegedly told investigators he had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and that he planned to travel overseas to join the group. If he wasn't able to join ISIS overseas, he allegedly planned to attack law enforcement officers at home, and was coordinating that plan with others.
Mumuni's alleged conspirators include Munther Omar Saleh, the 20-year-old college student from Queens arrested over the weekend for allegedly scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack. Court documents say Saleh also charged law enforcement officers with a knife when he saw them conducting surveillance of him and another alleged conspirator Saturday. No one was hurt.
Saleh allegedly named Mumuni as a co-conspirator when he agreed to speak with investigators following his arrest, court documents indicate. Investigators began reviewing cellphone records between the duo, and found discussions about attacking law enforcement.
In one conversation, Saleh allegedly told Mumuni to use a bomb, then to fight, later clarifying he should detonate an explosive, then run over law enforcement officers with a vehicle, gather up their weapons and use them to shoot at other victims, court papers say.
Court documents indicate Saleh allegedly emailed himself information about how to build a pressure cooker bomb like the ones used in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack; he and another man also allegedly searched for items like an LED light, lava lamp, chemistry model, propane and other components that authorities say could be used in the creation of explosive devices. While Saleh allegedly was running the "op," as he described it to a confidential informant, authorities allege Mumuni helped him in his alleged efforts to carry out an attack on behalf of ISIS.
The two were seen meeting on several occasions since May; during one meeting, Saleh contacted Mumuni to tell him he had money and wanted to meet, stating that he had money that "talks," possibly referring to funding for an illegal transaction, the complaint alleges. Saleh eluded surveillance teams on the way to a meeting with Mumuni on Staten Island.
Saleh and Mumuni also met in lower Manhattan late last month. On June 1, Saleh and another alleged co-conspirator allegedly talked about how the meeting with Mumuni went. Saleh allegedly said it was "awesome" and "motivating."
When Saleh told Mumuni 11 days later, "I decided to tell my parents 'i will be gone in much less than a year, in sha Allah, you have two choices, either you let me go to Darul Islam or you watch me kill nonMuslims here," Mumuni replied, "May Allah make it easy for you," court documents say.
Authorities went to Mumuni's home Wednesday to execute a search warrant in the case when Mumuni allegedly attacked them. Court papers say the suspect's mother and sister opened the door to let law enforcement officers in, and when they entered, Mumuni walked down the main staircase.
Officers ordered him to move to a couch in the living room and Mumuni refused, then allegedly lunged at the agents with a kitchen knife. He repeatedly tried to stab one officer as others attempted to restrain him, court papers say. None of the stabs penetrated the agent's body armor.
After Mumuni's arrest, his mother allowed agents to search his car, where investigators found a bag containing another large kitchen knife, court papers say. After his arrest, he allegedly told FBI agents Wednesday's attack on the officers was premeditated and that he kept the knife used to attack the agent wrapped in a T-shirt in his bed for just such an occasion. He said he also stowed the knife found in his mother's car for a potential encounter with law enforcement, the complaint says.
Court papers say Mumuni also admitted to talking about building a pressure cooker bomb with Saleh.
Mumuni appeared briefly in federal court in Brooklyn; he was appointed an attorney, Anthony Ricco, who denied his client pledged allegiance to ISIS. Ricco said Mumuni would plead not guilty at an appropriate time. He said Mumuni is a religious man who had a job before Wednesday. The lawyer also said Mumuni and Saleh know each other, but he declined to elaborate on their relationship.
Ricco said Mumuni's mother and cousins, who were in court Wednesday, were surprised by the charges. They did not comment as they left court. The young man's uncle, who was also in court, said he didn't believe the charges. He said Mumuni attends the College of Staten Island and works as a home health aide on the weekends. The uncle described Mumuni as a good kid.
A neighbor who witnessed the arrest was Mumuni was cooperative when he was arrested by authorities; he was led out of his home wearing a bathrobe and shackles. The neighbor reiterated the uncle's statements that Mumuni is a good kid, saying he was always offering to shovel and carry groceries. The neighbor said he doesn't believe the allegations "for a minute."
Mumuni was held without bail. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted of the charge of attempting to murder a federal officer.
Saleh appeared in court Saturday when the complaint against him was unsealed. The name of his attorney wasn't available, but his family denied the allegations Wednesday.