A Bronx man was charged on Thursday with trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS before the end of Ramadan, according to federal prosecutors.
Saddam Mohamed Raishani, 30, was picked up at Kennedy Airport on Wednesday night as he tried to board a flight from JFK to Istanbul, with a stopover in Lisbon.
Raishani, who also goes by the name Adam, allegedly contacted someone in January — who turned out to be a confidential informant — and by last month allegedly said he wanted to travel to Syria to join ISIS by the end of the Islamic holy month, which concludes June 24.
He was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and if convicted faces up to 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors. He was expected to be arraigned on Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
According to federal prosectors, he said he wouldn’t care if he was arrested because Allah, or God, would know he tried.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement that Raishani “allegedly acted on his own desire to wage violent jihad, planning to leave his family and life in New York City for the battlefields of the Middle East. Thanks to the excellent work of the FBI and NYPD, Raishani’s alleged plan to support this deadly terrorist organization was cut short at the airport and now he will face federal terrorism charges.”
Raishani, who worked as a home health aid, said he could pose as a nurse to cross international borders without being stopped and questioned, according to prosecutors.
He said he had a friend who had left to join ISIS and that he had helped him shop for supplies and driven him to the airport, but regretting not going himself.
He said he wanted to wage jihad and believed the Quran could justify violence, including beheadings, according to federal prosecutors.
The confidential informant then allegedly introduced Raishani to an undercover law enforcement officer posing as someone who also wanted to travel to go fight for ISIS.
Raishani allegedly told them he no longer felt comfortable in the United States and talked about how they could avoid detection by law enforcement officers, including using a specific internet browser to watch pro-ISIS videos and wearing gloves when using a laptop to watch the videos.
He said the undercover officer could pose as refugee aid worker and earlier this month, Raishani allegedly told the confidential informant that he was preparing to leave and paying off his debts.
“This case is another alleged instance of the nature of the terrorism threat and its reach into communities here at home,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “It is also a great example of the coordination which exists among local and federal law enforcement partners who work together to stop these alleged threats and interdict individuals allegedly determined on joining a terrorist organization intent on conducting violence around the globe.”