Sajmir Alimehmeti

Sajmir Alimehmeti is a U.S. citizen and suspected would-be foreign fighter for ISIS. He was arrested in New York in May 2016 and charged with passport fraud and providing material support to the terror group.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 1-2, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download;
Marc Santora and Benjamin Weiser, “Bronx Man Accused of Trying to Join ISIS is Arrested,” New York Times, May 24, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/25/nyregion/bronx-man-accused-of-trying-to-join-isis-is-arrested.html.
In addition to attempting to join ISIS in Syria, Alimehmeti allegedly sought to facilitate the travel of an undercover FBI officer to ISIS-controlled territory.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 1, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download.

In an effort to join ISIS in Syria, Alimehmeti traveled twice to the United Kingdom—in October and December 2014—but was denied entry both times and sent back to the United States. After Alimehmeti’s failed attempt in December, U.K. authorities shared photos with U.S. officials that they had retrieved from his cellphone and laptop. These included images of Alimehmeti posing in front of an ISIS flag, as well as downloaded sermons and lectures by deceased al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 4, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download.

In the fall of 2015, an undercover FBI agent began meeting regularly with Alimehmeti, and witnessed Alimehmeti watch multiple ISIS videos at his apartment in the Bronx, New York. Alimehmeti told the agent that the videos helped keep him “motivated” while working out. During this time, Alimehmeti also began purchasing and collecting military-style equipment, including steel-knuckled gloves.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 4, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download. In October 2015, he attempted to fraudulently obtain a U.S. passport by lying to authorities that his old passport had been lost. Alimehmeti allegedly believed that a new passport would help him travel overseas to join ISIS.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 4, 13, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download.

In early May 2016, the FBI agent connected Alimehmeti to another undercover officer, who posed as an ISIS sympathizer attempting to travel to Syria. Alimehmeti allegedly attempted to help this agent travel to Syria, including by recommending tactical gear and encrypted messaging platforms, as well as bringing him to John F. Kennedy airport so that he could purportedly travel overseas to join ISIS.U.S. Southern District of New York, “United States of America v. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a/k/a ‘Abdul Qawii,’ Defendant,” May 23, 2016, 12, https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/861501/download. Alimehmeti was arrested on May 24, 2016, and charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization and passport fraud.Marc Santora and Benjamin Weiser, “Bronx Man Accused of Trying to Join ISIS Is Arrested,” New York Times, May 24, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/25/nyregion/bronx-man-accused-of-trying-to-join-isis-is-arrested.html?_r=0.

Alimehmeti pleaded guilty on February 21, 2018. On December 6, 2019, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for “attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and attempting to fraudulently procure a U.S. passport to facilitate an act of international terrorism.”“Bronx Man Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 22 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS,” U.S. Department of Justice, December 6, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/bronx-man-sentenced-manhattan-federal-court-22-years-prison-attempting-provide-material.

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On September 17, 2019, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated outside a Presidential rally in Charikar, Afghanistan, killing at least 26 people and injuring another 30. Later, a suicide bomber detonated outside the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, killing 22 and wounding 38 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

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