New York

U.S. Citizen Arrested in New Jersey on Terror-Related Charges, Marking 5th Such Tri-State Arrest This Month

The FBI arrested a U.S. citizen in New Jersey early Monday on terror-related charges amid heightened security concerns heading into the July 4 holiday, NBC 4 New York first reported.

Ala Saadeh, of West New York, is accused of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and witness tampering. Prosecutors allege the 23-year-old man tried to provide services and personnel to the group, and attempted to persuade a witness to lie to the FBI.

Sporting a beard and glasses, Saadeh entered U.S. District Court in Newark on Monday shackled and wearing a red T-shirt and black shorts. He was held without bail after an initial court appearance.

His arrest marks the fifth time the FBI have apprehended tri-state suspects on terror-related charges. Saadeh has been accused of working with at least three of those suspects. 

Authorities say that Saadeh drove his brother to the airport so he could fly to the Middle East to join the group, then talked about reuniting with his sibling overseas a few months later.

Saadeh's brother was arrested after arriving, but the suspect, 20-year-old Queens college student Munther Omar Saleh and Fort Lee man Samuel Rahamin Topaz allegedly continued to plan to join ISIS, authorities say. The trio met several times and exchanged messages and phone calls. 

Prosecutors claimed Saadeh told another individual that he suspected that Saleh or Topaz had "snitched" on his brother and caused his arrest overseas, and that, if true, Saadeh thought he would have to "kill someone."

Saleh and a 17-year-old were arrested near the Whitestone Bridge on June 13 in connection with the ongoing ISIS-related probe.

Saleh is also accused of scouting possible targets for an ISIS-inspired attack and attempting to acquire materials to build a bomb. Court documents allege Saleh charged law enforcement officers with a knife when he saw them conducting surveillance of him and another alleged conspirator. No one was hurt in the encounter.

The 17-year-old faces state charges in Queens.

Saleh's family has denied the allegations against him; his lawyer could not be reached for comment after a court hearing earlier this month.

Topaz, 21, was arrested on June 18 and was charged with supporting ISIS-related activities and is being held without bail. Topaz is accused of communicating with Saleh.

And on June 17, 21-year-old Fareed Mumuni was charged with attempting to murder an FBI agent after he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab the agent who entered his Staten Island home to conduct a search in connection with the ongoing investigation involving Saleh.

Mumini's attorney has denied his client pledged allegiance to ISIS; he has said Mumini is a practicing Muslim with a clean record who attends the College of Staten Island.

In recent days, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FBI and National Counterterrorism Center issued a joint intelligence bulletin to law enforcement across the country indicating that although there are no known specific threats the law enforcement community should remain alert during the July 4 holiday period.

The NYPD said it has stepped up security as a precaution in the wake of the bulletin. Police sources say the volume of chatter is high, but, unlike in the past, when messages seemed to emanate from organized groups, the chatter appears to be stemming from individuals. The sources say that may mean the chatter isn't credible, but they are not discounting it.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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