Ali Saleh

Ali Saleh is a U.S. citizen and alleged attempted foreign fighter for ISIS. Saleh allegedly failed on multiple occasions to secure flights to join ISIS strongholds abroad, in both Syria and Egypt. In August 2015, he allegedly abandoned his efforts to join ISIS and attempted to fly to Yemen to join a local militia there.“United States of America Against Ali Saleh,” United States Department of Justice, September 16, 2015,http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/772336/download.

According to federal prosecutors, in 2013, Saleh became interested in the Syrian civil war. He later pledged allegiance to ISIS and attempted to travel to ISIS-controlled territory in the Middle East multiple times. On August 28, 2014, he stated his desire to travel to Syria online and purchased airline tickets for a flight from New York to Turkey, with the intention of crossing into Syria. However, Saleh’s parents confiscated his passport, and he was unable to travel.“New York Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Public Affairs, July 24, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isis-0.

In October 2014, Saleh communicated with an ISIS supporter in Mali online and wired $500 to help facilitate that individual’s travel to Syria. Saleh also used the Internet to communicate with other ISIS supporters in the United Kingdom and Australia.“New York Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Public Affairs, July 24, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isis-0.

In July 2015, Saleh purchased fireworks, which contained explosive powder, in Indiana and transported them to New York hidden in a concealed compartment of his car. He abandoned the car when it broke down during the journey to New York City. Around the same time, he shared an image online that described how to build an improvised explosive device.“New York Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Public Affairs, July 24, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isis-0.

Saleh made subsequent unsuccessful attempts to travel abroad. On July 24, 2015, he purchased airline tickets to fly from New York to Egypt. He was denied boarding at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He then traveled to airports in Newark, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis, but encountered issues at all three locations. He then planned to take a train from Cleveland, Ohio to Canada, where he intended to fly to the Middle East.“New York Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Public Affairs, July 24, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isis-0. However, at the train station in Cleveland, he was approached by FBI agents. During the subsequent interview, Saleh admitted that he had been in contact with ISIS facilitators and that he intended to fly to Yemen to join a militia. After the interview and upon learning that the Canadian authorities would not allow him to enter the country, he returned to New York.“United States of America Against Ali Saleh,” United States Department of Justice, September 16, 2015,http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/772336/download, 12-13.

In September 2015, after more than a year of Saleh’s alleged attempts to join foreign terrorist organizations abroad, the United States filed a criminal complaint against Saleh, charging him with attempting to provide material support and resources, “including personnel (himself)” to a foreign terrorist group, namely, ISIS.“New York Man Arrested for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, September 17, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-arrested-attempting-provide-material-support-isil. On July 24, 2018, Saleh pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of attempting to provide material support to ISIS. At sentencing, he faces up to 35 years in prison.“New York Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Public Affairs, July 24, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-attempting-provide-material-support-isis-0.

Saleh slashed a federal correctional officer on July 13, 2018, while imprisoned at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, when the officer reached into the cell to remove trash, Saleh slashed the officer’s right forearm with a makeshift knife and said, “I hope you die.” On June 3, 2019, Saleh pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal correctional officer and possessing contraband in a federal jail. At sentencing, he faces 25 years in prison for these two charges, in addition to the 35 years he faces on the earlier ISIS charges.“Queens Man Pleads Guilty to Assaulting a Federal Correctional Officer and Possessing Contraband at a Federal Jail in Brooklyn,” U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of New York, June 3, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/queens-man-pleads-guilty-assaulting-federal-correctional-officer-and-possessing.

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