New York City

Bronx Home Health Aide, 30, Arrested at Kennedy Airport as He Prepared to Fly Out to Join ISIS: Feds

Authorities say the FBI and NYPD began investigating Raishani in January when he contacted a confidential source working with law enforcement to tell him he wanted to join ISIS

What to Know

  • 30-year-old home health aide Saddam "Adam" Mohamed Raishani was arrested at JFK Airport Wednesday night, federal prosecutors say
  • He was trying to fly to Turkey, then get to Syria to join ISIS, according to authorities
  • Raishani had been actively preparing for months to join the terrorist organization

A Bronx home health aide was arrested at Kennedy Airport Wednesday night as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey in an apparent attempt to join ISIS, federal prosecutors say.

Saddam "Adam" Mohamed Raishani, 30, was allegedly planning to leave his family and life in New York City to support the deadly terrorist organization in Syria, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim alleges. He was planning to get into the country through Turkey. 

Raishani has been charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and was set to face a judge in federal court later Thursday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. 

The FBI and NYPD began investigating Raishani in January when he contacted a confidential source working with law enforcement to tell him he wanted to join ISIS, authorities said. He told the source he'd already helped another person get from New York to the Middle East to join ISIS and regretted not having gone with him.

Raishani told the source he wanted to wage jihad and that he believed that the Quran could be read to justify the violence, including beheadings, used by ISIS.

That source introduced Raishani to an undercover officer who pretended he also wanted to travel abroad to fight for ISIS.

Whenever the three of them met, Raishani would talk about being in touch with other ISIS supporters and show videos that appeared to depict ISIS terrorists killing civilians in Yemen, prosecutors alleged. 

Also during those meetings, Raishani advised the other two to avoid detection by law enforcement by covering their computer's cameras and turning off the microphones when watching pro-ISIS videos online, according to prosecutors. He told them he even put on gloves while watching such videos. 

He also said if the two went abroad, he could pose as a nurse and the undercover officer could pose as a refugee aid worker in order to cross international borders without being stopped and questioned by authorities, the criminal complaint stated. 

By April, Raishani was actively planning to travel abroad to join ISIS, and he contacted a second undercover officer, an FBI employee, to figure out how to travel overseas to join ISIS before the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that runs from about May 26 through June 24 this year.

He told the undercover FBI officer he'd contact the officer about travel arrangements and said he didn't care if he was arrested, "because Allah would know that he tried," according to prosecutors.

Then in June, Raishani told the initial confidential source he was getting ready to leave, including paying off his remaining debts; the two men bought clothing they intended to wear for their training in ISIS, the criminal complaint alleges. Raishani then told the undercover FBI officer he was planning to meet an ISIS member in Turkey in the next few days, who would then help him join ISIS in Syria.

Raishani bought a plane ticket for a flight scheduled to leave JFK Airport on June 21 for Istanbul, via Lisbon, Portugal, according to federal authorities. He was arrested by the FBI after he tried to board that flight to Lisbon.

Raishani faces up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted. 

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