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NJ Man Charged With Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL, Witness Tampering

West New York New Jersey

A West New York man was arrested at his home this morning for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, and Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI’s Newark Division announced.

Alaa Saadeh, 23, of West New York, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with conspiring with other individuals in New Jersey and New York to provide services and personnel to ISIL, aiding and abetting an attempt to provide services and personnel to ISIL, and attempting to persuade a witness to lie to the FBI. He is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case:

The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) have been investigating a group of individuals from New York and New Jersey who have allegedly conspired to provide material support to ISIL. Conspirator 1 (CC-1) lived in Rutherford, New Jersey, until leaving the country on May 5, 2015, allegedly to join ISIL. Conspirator 2 (CC-2) was a Queens, New York, resident until he was arrested in New York on June 13, 2015, on terrorism charges. Samuel Rahamin Topaz was a Fort Lee, New Jersey, resident until he was arrested in New Jersey on June 17, 2015, and charged with conspiring to provide services and personnel to ISIL.

When CC-1 attempted to travel to the Middle East via John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), allegedly in order to join ISIL, he was accompanied by Saadeh and CC-2.  On the way to the airport, CC-1 allegedly stated that he, Saadeh, CC-2, and Topaz had plans to reunite overseas within a few weeks.

After CC-1’s departure, and despite learning from CC-1’s family that he had been arrested in Jordan on suspicion of supporting ISIL, Saadeh, CC-2, and Topaz allegedly continued to discuss their plan to travel overseas to join ISIL. Electronic communications later recovered from Topaz’s phone corroborated their plans. On May 21, 2015, Saadeh and Topaz discussed the need to “lay low” and refrain from taking action in furtherance of the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL that might be detected by law enforcement. Saadeh and Topaz also allegedly discussed needing to meet in person to discuss “hijra,” which Topaz later told members of the JTTF that referred to traveling overseas to join ISIL. The next day, Saadeh allegedly told another individual that he suspected that CC-2 or Topaz had “snitched” on CC-1 and caused his arrest overseas, and, if that was true, Saadeh thought he would have to “kill someone.”  

In recorded conversations with an informant, Saadeh revealed his support for ISIL, including its use of beheadings and mass killings to impose its violent agenda.  He said he planned to travel overseas with CC-2 “at some point.”  Saadeh allegedly said he knew CC-1 planned to travel to join ISIL before CC-1 departed the United States and that he bought CC-1’s airline ticket despite knowing this. The investigation also revealed that Saadeh provided CC-1 transportation and removed a SIM card from CC-1’s phone in an apparent effort to hide incriminating communications and other data.

In June, after becoming aware that he was under FBI surveillance, Saadeh allegedly directed an individual in New Jersey not to tell the FBI about CC-1’s support for ISIL or CC-1’s plans to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIL. Saadeh instructed the individual to “play dumb” and be “honest up to a point,” but to be sure not to tell the FBI anything about ISIL.

Each count in the complaint carries a maximum of potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the FBI and the JTTF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Frankel, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.