BROOKLYN--Two more men tied to a terrorism plot spanning New Jersey, New York and the Middle East have pleaded guilty to all charges in a scheme that authorities said included plans to bomb Times Square and the World Trade Center. Munther Omar Saleh, 21, a former student at an aeronautical engineering college in Queens, and Fareed Mumuni, 22, of Staten Island, admitted to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, also known as ISIL, and to assault a federal officer. The two were among a close circle of friends, including three from New Jersey, who sought to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State, authorities said. Among them were Nader Saadeh, 22, from Rutherford and his older brother Alaa Saadeh, 25, of West New York, who both pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark more than a year ago. Alaa Saadeh was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison. His brother is awaiting sentencing. Samuel Topaz, 23, of Fort Lee, a high school classmate of Nader Saadeh, also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing as well.
“In the name of ISIL’s false and hateful ideology, these defendants attacked the law enforcement officers who work tirelessly to preserve the safety of our communities,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. “We are especially grateful that an FBI Special Agent survived the violent attack perpetrated by Fareed Mumuni, who repeatedly stabbed the agent in the chest during the execution of a search warrant in a terrorism investigation. We and our partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force remain ever-vigilant in our efforts to protect our citizens and allies and by bringing terrorists to face justice. Today’s convictions will help incapacitate these defendants and sends a strong message to those who would follow in their footsteps.” Mr. Capers thanked the West Midlands Police in the United Kingdom for their assistance in providing evidence related to foreign coconspirators. “Today’s guilty pleas show just how close the threat of homegrown terrorism exists for New York City. From their respective homes in Queens and Staten Island, Saleh and Mumuni conspired to place a pressure cooker bomb in the New York metro area on behalf of ISIL. Mumuni even attacked an FBI agent when a court-authorized search was being conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force at his home in Staten Island. Threats like this are exactly why protecting the United States from a terrorist attack remains the FBI’s number one priority,” stated Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “Saleh and Mumumi engaged in plotting attacks against New York City in the name of ISIL. They received instructions from senior ISIL leaders in Syria. They were committed to violence. When the arrests were made the defendants were armed. One attacked an FBI agent with a large knife. The detection and disruption of these plots is a credit to the partnership between the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD's Intelligence Bureau,” said Police Commissioner O'Neill.
As alleged in the indictment and in other court filings, Saleh and Mumuni conspired to support ISIL by helping their co-conspirators attempt to travel to ISIL-controlled territory in order to join ISIL, and by plotting to use a pressure-cooker bomb to conduct a terrorist attack in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL. As part of their support for ISIL, Saleh and Mumuni, together with other co-conspirators, assisted New Jersey resident Nader Saadeh’s planned travel to ISIL-controlled territory. Saleh personally accompanied Saadeh to John F. Kennedy International Airport where Saadeh departed on a flight for Jordan in the first leg of a planned trip to ISIL-controlled territory. Saadeh was subsequently apprehended and pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL. Working with ISIL fighters located overseas, Saleh and Mumuni also coordinated their plot to conduct a terrorist attack in New York City. Saleh sought and received instructions from an ISIL attack facilitator to create a pressure-cooker bomb and discussed with the same ISIL attack facilitator potential targets for a terrorist attack in New York City.
As detailed in court documents, Saleh informed ISIL fighters that his co-conspirators, five individuals located in New York and New Jersey, had confronted law enforcement officers who were continuously surveilling them. Saleh also sought and received religious authorization from an ISIL fighter permitting Mumuni to conduct a suicide “martyrdom” attack by using a pressure-cooker bomb against law enforcement officers who were following the co-conspirators and thus preventing them from traveling to join ISIL. On June 13, 2015, Saleh and another individual were arrested in Queens after they charged at a federal officer who was performing physical surveillance of Saleh. Saleh and the other individual were armed with knives. Following his arrest, Saleh admitted to agents that he had discussed with Mumuni physically attacking the law enforcement officers who were surveilling Mumuni. On June 17, 2015, during the execution of a search warrant at his residence in Staten Island, Mumuni was arrested after he repeatedly stabbed an FBI agent in the torso with a large kitchen knife. Fortunately, the knife did not penetrate the agent’s protective body armor and he sustained only minor injuries.
During a search of the vehicle used by Mumuni, investigators recovered a second large knife. In his post-arrest interview, Mumuni admitted that Saleh had informed him that an ISIL member had sanctioned Mumuni’s planned suicide attack on law enforcement and that Saleh and Mumuni had discussed using a pressure-cooker bomb to carry out the attack. Mumuni further admitted that he had kept the knife he used to attack the agent wrapped in a t-shirt in his bed, as well as the knife recovered from the vehicle, specifically for use in an anticipated confrontation with law enforcement officers. The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda and Ian C. Richardson for the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorneys Justin Sher and Robert Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Bill Warner Private Investigator Sarasota SEX, CRIME CHEATERS & TERRORISM at www.wbipi.com