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NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today 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, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the FBI’s Newark Division announced.
Alaa Saadeh, 24, of West New York, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with others to provide material support to ISIL. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “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.”
“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.”
“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,” stated Newark FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher.
According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:
Saadeh admitted that, prior to his arrest June 29, 2015, by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), 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 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, Saadeh’s brother, Nader Saadeh, departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL as part of the conspiracy. Saadeh admitted assisting his brother with these plans by letting him purchase airline tickets using Saadeh’s credit card and by 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’s travel from Turkey to ISIL in Syria.
Saadeh admitted that, after Nader Saadeh 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 to the FBI if the individual was interviewed. Saadeh told this individual to “just play stupid,” “pretend it never happened,” and “keep it honest up to a point.”
Saadeh admitted 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.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Saadeh to a lifetime of supervised release.
Saadeh’s alleged 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 brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 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.
U.S. Attorney Fishman and Assistant Attorney General Carlin credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and the JTTF, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Judson Welle, Dennis C. Carletta, and Francisco J. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark, with assistance from Trial Attorney Robert Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Defense counsel: Maria Noto Esq., Matawan, New Jersey