NYC Man Captured at Airport Pleads Guilty to Trying to Join ISIS

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Photo Source: FBI

Adam Raishani, aka “Saddam Mohamed Raishani,” 32, of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide and conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State.

According to the allegations in the Superseding Information, Complaint, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:

Beginning in at least the fall of 2015, Raishani conspired with another ISIS supporter (“CC-1”) to provide material support to ISIS by means of CC-1 traveling abroad to join and fight for ISIS. On or about Oct. 30, 2015, CC-1 departed from JFK Airport for Istanbul, Turkey, where he planned to cross into Syria to join ISIS. Raishani arranged for CC-1’s transportation from the Bronx, New York, to John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK Airport”), and Raishani accompanied CC-1 from the Bronx to JFK Airport.

Raishani continued communicating with CC-1 following CC-1’s departure. For example, on or about Jan. 2, 2016, Raishani sent an email to CC-1 stating: “Glad tidings brother. Its [sic] been some time since your voyage. I pray to Allah The ALL MIGHTY to grant you success. Until next time.”[1] On or about April 1, 2016, Raishani sent another email to CC-1 stating: “I hope Allah has bestowed you what you were seeking. . . . May Allah grant you sincere and clean intentions and make you among the righteous in Janatal Firdaus [a reference to Islamic paradise]. . . . Please return this email and respond to what we agreed upon before your departure. Until next time.” On or about May 3, 2016, CC-1 responded to Raishani, indicating that he had succeeded in joining the Islamic State. CC-1 informed Raishani that CC-1 was “fine and well,” that CC-1 “wished you [Raishani] were here with me,” and that “here we are living with izza [honor].”

Also in May 2016, CC-1 posted content on a particular social media application (“Application-1”) indicating that CC-1 was living in the Islamic State and fighting on its behalf. For example, CC-1 sent messages to another user of Application-1 stating: “I’m living in the Islamic state safely and secure by the permission of Allah,” “[h]ere we are fighting the kuffars [non-believers],” and “I left the land of kuffars now I’m living in the khilafah [the caliphate].” CC-1 also posted a photograph on Application-1 that shows CC-1 carrying an assault rifle and a flag representative of ISIS.

Between Jan. and June of 2017, Raishani had a series of meetings with individuals who were, unbeknownst to Raishani, a confidential source working at the direction of law enforcement and an undercover law enforcement officer. In the course of those meetings, Raishani admitted that he had previously helped another person (CC-1) travel overseas to join the Islamic State, and stated that he intended to travel overseas to join ISIS himself. During those meetings, Raishani also downloaded and viewed violent ISIS propaganda videos, and indicated his desire to wage jihad and his belief that the Quran can be read to justify the violence, including beheadings, engaged in by ISIS.

By April 2017, Raishani was actively planning to travel abroad to join ISIS. Raishani indicated that he aspired to join ISIS in Syria and that he aimed to travel before the end of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month that ran from approximately May 26 through June 24 of 2017. In June 2017, Raishani made preparations to leave, including by paying off debts and purchasing clothing that he intended to wear for training with ISIS overseas. Raishani indicated his intention to meet an ISIS member in Turkey, who would facilitate Raishani’s joining the terrorist organization in Syria. On June 21, 2017, Raishani attempted to board a flight bound for Turkey (via Portugal) at JFK Airport, at which point law enforcement officers arrested him.

Following Raishani’s arrest, the FBI searched Raishani’s Bronx residence pursuant to a search warrant. Among the evidence recovered was a letter from Raishani addressed to members of his family, which the FBI found in a safe in Raishani’s bedroom. In the letter, Raishani—who left behind his wife and young son when he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS—advised his wife that she could still choose to “[j]oin” him in the Islamic State, and he expressed regret that she did not share his radical views and that he had been unable to convince her to accompany him to join ISIS. Raishani also wrote: “Do Not Divulge this document and other documents that I have giv[en] to you to the authorities. Do not believe their plots. Do not divulge my absences but instead say I went to do volunteering outside the country with my medical skills and health background.”

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Raishani, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. Sentencing is scheduled for March 8, 2019, before Judge Abrams.

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