A New York City man and his wife were arrested after conspiring to provide support for the terror group ISIS and trying to board a cargo ship bound for the Middle East to join the group — and even discussed a domestic attack at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, prosecutors said.
James Bradley and his wife, Arwa Muthana, were taken into custody Wednesday at a Newark, New Jersey, seaport by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force as they tried to board the ship to head overseas.
According to prosecutors from the U.S. Southern District of New York, the 20-year-old Bradley had expressed violent extremist views, including his support for and desire to join ISIS, since at least 2019. In May 2020, he told an undercover law enforcement officer that he thought ISIS may be good for Muslims because of the caliphate it had been trying to establish, the criminal complaint stated. He also explained that he wanted to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S., specifically discussing a potential attack at West Point.
Bradley, a Bronx resident, said that if he were unable to leave the country because of a terror watch list he might've been on, he would do "something" in the U.S. instead, hinting at carrying out an attack, the criminal complaint said. He told the undercover officer that an attack on a military base would be his contribution to a jihad. In Jan. 2021, he also mentioned another university in New York where he frequently saw ROTC cadets training, saying that he and Muthana could use his truck in an attack to take all of the cadets "out."
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Before and after getting married later that month, Bradley and Muthana, 29, talked about their plans of going to the Middle East together to join ISIS, according to the criminal complaint. In early March, Bradley visited Muthana in Alabama, where she is a resident. The pair then traveled back up to New York to finish planning and begin their journey, the complaint read.
Bradley asked the undercover officer if he would help them get on a cargo ship en route to Asia or Africa, in order to eventually make to the Middle East. The undercover had him get in contact with someone he said could help out, who in reality was another undercover officer.
Those two met later in the month, when Bradley reiterated his desire to "fight among the rank[s] of the Islamic State." In another meeting, he gave $1,000 in cash to fund their travel via cargo ship to Yemen, according to the complaint. He said that he and Muthana planned on "fighting" after arrival, and told the undercover he had a dream he had given “bay’ah,” an Arabic term meaning the oath of allegiance, to the current leader of ISIS, the documents said.
The undercover officer told Bradley that the cargo ship would be leaving on March 31 from Newark, and the two (along with Muthana) met to head there on that day. Muthana confirmed to the undercover officer her desire to fight for ISIS.
Both Bradley and Muthana were arrested as they attempted to board the cargo ship.
After she was arrested, Muthana said during an interview that would be willing to kill Americans if it was for Allah, according to court documents. The same day of the arrest, FBI agents seized what court documents said appeared to be a hand-drawn image of a jihadi flag used by terror group the from Bradley's bedroom, as well as a hand-drawn map of the Pakistan region.
Bradley and Muthana made an initial court appearance Thursday and were ordered jailed without bail. Messages seeking comment were left with their lawyers.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement that the couple’s “plans to wage attacks against the United States have been thwarted.”
If convicted, both could get up to 40 years in prison.