NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — FBI agents on Monday arrested another New Jersey man and charged him with plotting to support the Islamic State group.
A criminal complaint alleges 23-year-old Alaa Saadeh of West New York bought a plane ticket for his brother to fly to the Middle East to join the Islamic militant organization. It also alleges he told a friend to lie if questioned by the FBI.
Saadeh made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Monday shackled and wearing a red T-shirt and black shorts. Speaking softly only to answer a few questions from the judge, he was appointed an attorney and held without bail.
The charges Saadeh faces — conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, aiding and abetting an attempt to provide material support, and witness tampering — all carry maximum prison sentences of 20 years.
Saadeh's attorney, Maria Noto, said she believes her client is an American citizen and has no criminal convictions. She said she would seek to schedule a bail hearing in the next few weeks.
The FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force have been investigating several people in New York and New Jersey amid heightened concerns of terrorist attacks surrounding the July Fourth holiday. Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, of Fort Lee, was charged earlier this month with conspiring to join the Islamic State group.
According to the criminal complaint released Monday, a Rutherford man who is Saadeh's brother traveled to the Middle East in May to join the IS group and was arrested in Jordan. Saadeh's credit card was used to buy his brother's plane ticket, and Saadeh was aware of his plans to join the group, the complaint alleges.
The complaint alleges that Topaz had numerous meetings and exchanged text messages and phone calls with Saadeh, his brother and 20-year-old Munther Omar Saleh, a New York City college student who was arrested this month and charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
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."
In a June 13 conversation secretly recorded by an informant, Saadeh allegedly spoke of his knowledge of his brother's plans. He also allegedly told the person what to do if the FBI began asking questions.
"You just play stupid," Saadeh said, according to the complaint. "Like you just really don't know. That all you know is that he was going to see his parents."
The complaint says Saadeh's parents were deported from the U.S. after they were convicted of crimes several years ago but didn't specify what those crimes were.