Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Munther Omar Saleh was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by a term of 10 years’ supervised release. Saleh had pleaded guilty on February 10, 2017 to all counts in an indictment charging him with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, and with assaulting and conspiring to assault federal officers.
As alleged in the indictment and in other court filings, Saleh, together with other coconspirators, assisted New Jersey resident Nader Saadeh’s planned travel to ISIS-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 ISIS-controlled territory. Saadeh was subsequently apprehended and pleaded guilty in federal court in New Jersey to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
Working with ISIS attack facilitators located overseas, Saleh coordinated a plot to conduct a terrorist attack in New York City. Saleh sought and received instructions from ISIS attack facilitator Junaid Hussain to construct a pressure-cooker bomb and discussed with him potential targets for a terrorist attack in New York City, such as the Statue of Liberty. As detailed in court documents, Saleh informed ISIS attack facilitators that his coconspirators—five individuals located in New York and New Jersey—had confronted law enforcement officers who were surveilling them continuously. Saleh also sought and received authorization from Junaid Hussain permitting codefendant Fareed Mumuni to conduct a suicide “martyrdom” attack by using a pressure-cooker bomb against law enforcement officers who were following the coconspirators and thus preventing them from traveling to join ISIS.
On June 13, 2015, Saleh and another coconspirator were arrested in Queens after they attempted to attack members of law enforcement by charging at a federal officer who was performing physical surveillance of Saleh. Saleh and the coconspirator were armed with knives. The law enforcement officer reversed his vehicle into a multilane intersection and escaped the attack without incident or injury. 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. In his post-arrest interview, Mumuni admitted that Saleh had informed him that an ISIS 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.
“Munther Omar Saleh and his coconspirators conducted attacks on members of law enforcement who worked tirelessly to keep our city safe,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Saleh’s sentence will not only incapacitate the defendant for a significant period of time, but should also serve as a deterrent to those who contemplate waging violent jihad in New York City at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization. This Office, and our partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, will never relent in our efforts to hold terrorists accountable for their cowardly acts, including attacks on those who protect us.”
“Inspired by ISIS’s violent and hateful ideology, the defendant conspired with others to use a pressure-cooker bomb in a terrorist attack in New York and attempted to attack members of law enforcement who were conducting surveillance of him,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Callaghan. “Today’s sentence is but one example of our resolve to bring to justice homegrown violent extremists who plot and attempt attacks on innocent people, including law enforcement agents, in the U.S. in the name of foreign terrorist organizations.”
“Saleh attempted to turn our city into a staging ground for violent attacks, including those aimed at both local and federal law enforcement officials. Directed by a known terrorist organization responsible for civilian massacres and other heinous crimes worldwide, he supported and attempted to facilitate the martyrdom of those with similar views,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Today’s sentencing promises he’ll remain behind bars for a significant period of time, upholding our faith in a justice system that has little compassion for those who wish to harm our way of life.”