Wednesday, June 17, 2015

17-Jun-15: Just hanging around a bridge: They're pursuing terrorists in every one of the US states

Saleh and father, according to a Daily Mail UK published image. The father
says "it's a misunderstanding, he has been set up,
and had merely been conducting simple Internet searches
Munther Omar Saleh, a student at Queens College in New York, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court on Saturday. The allegations against him stem initially from when he was spotted by a Port Authority of NY security officer acting in a way that aroused suspicion at the George Washington Bridge in March.

The following day, he was found on the bridge again. The suspicions are grave. Saleh, evidently a US citizen, is said to have been
"making efforts to prepare an explosive device for detonation in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL,” according to court papers filed by Special Agent Christopher Buscaglia with the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York. [Source]
He is of course completely innocent under the law until found otherwise by the judicial process, which will presumably take note of the evidence that, after he was arrested, instructions for how to make a pressure-cooker bomb were found on his computer. So were pictures of New York landmarks, along with tips for how to evade the police.
In college this year, he began studying electrical circuitry, which can be key in bomb making, federal authorities said... In May and early this month, Saleh searched online for bomb-making materials; notable New York City landmarks and tourist attractions; a map of surveillance cameras; chemical masks; weapons and remote-controlled helicopters and drones, federal officials said. He was working with two unnamed co-conspirators, according to the complaint, and early Saturday, the three practiced "anti-surveillance" maneuvers in their Jeep Cherokee, including driving with lights off, the complaint said. Just off the Whitestone Expressway about 4 a.m. that day, the Jeep was at a red light when Saleh and a co-conspirator ran toward the vehicle tailing them, federal officials said. The undercover driver reversed the vehicle to avoid an attack, the complaint said. [Newsday, June 16. 2015]
The New York Times says ["College Student in Queens Is Charged With Conspiring to Support ISIS", June 16, 2015] he is being charged
with conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization after a monthslong investigation found that he was planning to attack various New York City landmarks on behalf of the Islamic State, according to the authorities.
A second male was arrested with him. He is not named in the court documents and, according to Reuters, could not immediately be identified.

According to Queens Courier today
An investigation by the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) revealed that Saleh, also known as “Abu Omar al Ramil” and “Abu Omar ar-Ramil,” “espouses violent jihadists beliefs and is a fervent supporter” of ISIL, the complaint said... [When stopped by law enforcement officials in the small hours of Saturday June 13] Saleh and the passenger were arrested at the scene and a search turned up a Smith & Wesson folding tactical knife in the waistband of the passenger’s pants.
Reuters reminds us that
U.S. authorities have charged a number of so-called "lone wolf" plotters in recent months who have apparently been inspired by Islamic State, and authorities have said they are pursuing similar cases in all 50 states.
All fifty states. And at a wild guess, we would say there might be more than one such investigation in certain of those states.

UPDATE Friday June 19, 2015: As to whether it makes sense to think of this suspect as someone who plotted alone, take a look at "19-Jun-15: Lone-wolf Islamist terror attack in NY: Four arrests so far"

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