West New York man sentenced to 15 years in prison for supporting ISIS


A West New York man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group ISIS, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman at Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez's swearing in on September 17.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman at Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez’s swearing in on September 17.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Alaa Saadeh, 24, of West New York, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to one count of conspiring with others to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), better known as ISIS.

Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court, which also includes a lifetime of supervised release.

“Saadeh didn’t just plan to join ISIL: he facilitated his brother’s overseas travel and deliberately took steps to conceal the scheme from law enforcement,” Fishman said in a statement.

“Today’s sentence is an appropriate punishment for his role in a conspiracy that would have supplied new recruits to a terrorist organization that regularly threatens American lives at home and abroad.”

Saadeh was arrested in June, less than two weeks after a Fort Lee man, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, who was born in West New York was arrested on nearly identical charges (though Saadeh was also initially charged with witness tampering).

Saadeh admitted that, prior to his arrest June 29, 2015, by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), he planned to travel overseas to join ISIS along with others, authorities said.

Saadeh discussed the plans to join ISIS with his brother, Nader Saadeh, Topaz, and Munther Omar Saleh and admitted that at various times each of them indicated that they wanted to join ISIS, officials said.

According to court documents, Saadeh also admitted he watched ISIS-related videos with Nader Saadeh and Topaz, some of which depicted the execution of individuals – both Muslim and non-Muslim – regarded by ISIS as enemies.

On May 5, 2015, Nader Saadeh, departed the United States with plans to travel overseas to join ISIL as part of the conspiracy.

Saadeh admitted assisting his brother with these plans by letting him purchase airline tickets using Saadeh’s credit card and by removing the SIM card from Nader’s smartphone and resetting the smartphone in an effort to avoid detection, court documents show.

Saadeh also admitted that Saleh assisted Nader Saadeh by giving him contact information for an individual who would facilitate Nader’s travel from Turkey to ISIS in Syria, officials said.

Furthermore, Saadeh admitted that, after Nader Saadeh left the United States, Saleh and Topaz intended to travel overseas to join ISIS. After becoming aware that the FBI was investigating this matter, Saadeh instructed an individual who knew of Nader Saadeh’s support for ISIS to lie to the FBI if the individual was interviewed.

Saadeh told this individual to “just play stupid,” “pretend it never happened,” and “keep it honest up to a point,” authorities said.

Saadeh admitted knowing that ISIS was a designated terrorist organization and was taking over territory overseas, expelling non-Muslims from their homes, and executing individuals who did not obey ISIS’s commands, officials said.

Saadeh’s alleged conspirators are being prosecuted and are currently in federal custody. Topaz and Nader Saadeh both previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and await sentencing.

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