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Press Release

New Jersey Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Conspiring to Provide Material Support to ISIL

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A West New York, New Jersey, man today was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the FBI’s Newark Division.

Alaa Saadeh, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton of the District of New Jersey, after pleading guilty on Oct. 29, 2015, to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to provide material support to ISIL.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Saadeh to a lifetime of supervised release. 

“With this sentence, Alaa Saadeh is being held accountable for conspiring with his brother and others to travel overseas to join ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

“Saadeh didn’t just plan to join ISIL, he facilitated his brother’s overseas travel and deliberately took steps to conceal the scheme from law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman.  “Today’s sentence is an appropriate punishment for his role in a conspiracy that would have supplied new recruits to a terrorist organization that regularly threatens American lives at home and abroad.”

“I want to commend the work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators and the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who worked countless hours throughout this investigation to protect the community in their execution of the FBI’s Counterterrorism strategy to detect, penetrate and disrupt potential acts of terrorism in the United States and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Gallagher. 

According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:

Saadeh admitted that prior to his arrest on June 29, 2015, he planned to travel overseas to join ISIL along with others.  Saadeh discussed the plans to join ISIL with his brother, Nader Saadeh, Samuel Rahamin Topaz and Munther Omar Saleh, and admitted that at various times each of them indicated that they wanted to join ISIL.  Saadeh also admitted that he watched ISIL-related videos with Nader Saadeh and Topaz, some of which depicted the execution of individuals – both Muslim and non-Muslim – regarded by ISIL as enemies.

On May 5, 2015, Nader Saadeh, departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL as part of the conspiracy.  Saadeh admitted assisting Nader Saadeh with these plans by letting him purchase airline tickets using Saadeh’s credit card, removing the SIM card from Nader’s smartphone and resetting the smartphone in an effort to avoid detection.  Saadeh also admitted that Saleh assisted Nader Saadeh by giving him contact information for an individual who would facilitate Nader Saadeh’s travel from Turkey to ISIL in Syria. 

Saadeh admitted that after his brother left the United States, Saleh and Topaz intended to travel overseas to join ISIL.  After becoming aware that the FBI was investigating this matter, Saadeh instructed an individual who knew of Nader Saadeh’s support for ISIL to lie if questioned by the FBI on the subject.  Saadeh told this individual to “just play stupid,” “pretend it never happened” and “keep it honest up to a point.”

Saadeh admitted to knowing that ISIL was a designated terrorist organization and was taking over territory overseas, expelling non-Muslims from their homes and executing individuals who did not obey ISIL’s commands. 

Saadeh’s alleged co-conspirators are being prosecuted and are currently in federal custody.  Topaz and Nader Saadeh both previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and await sentencing. 

Saleh has been indicted on terrorism-related charges in the Eastern District of New York.  The charges and allegations against Saleh are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gallagher, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Judson Welle, Dennis C. Carletta and Francisco J. Navarro of the District of New Jersey, with assistance from Trial Attorney Robert Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Updated August 11, 2016

National Security
Press Release Number: 16-549