New Jersey man arrested after allegedly traveling to join ISIS

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 20, plotted to kill nearly 1,000 Americans through ISIS. Photo courtesy: CNN

(CNN) Nearly two months after his brother and others were arrested for allegedly trying to join up with ISIS, a 20-year-old New Jersey man was taken into custody Monday on a similar accusation.

Nader Saadeh, his hands bound in chains, was in a federal courtroom hours after his arrest. He requested a court-appointed attorney, and looked to the ground as the charges against him were read aloud.

Those charges are one count of conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIS; and one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Both charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000.

Saadeh, who is being held without bail, did not enter a plea Monday, and his court-appointed lawyer, Frank Arleo, offered “no comment” relating to the charges.

Prosecutors say Saadeh traveled overseas on May 5 from New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport to Amman, Jordan, in an attempt to reach ISIS-controlled territory.

Saadeh was subsequently detained in Jordan for five days in solitary confinement, according to court documents.

The next month, federal officials arrested his 23-year-old brother, Alaa Saadeh.

Alaa Saadeh, who had been living in West New York, New Jersey, allegedly planned to travel to ISIS-controlled territory, and bought a plane ticket for his brother to do the same, the U.S. Department of Justice disclosed in June.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey said in a news release Monday that the younger Saadeh had conspired with his brother, Samuel Rahamin Topaz and another unidentified co-conspirator. The other three were arrested in June.

Between 2012 and 2013, Nader Saadeh allegedly sent electronic messages to his unidentified co-conspirator denouncing the United States and his desire to form a small army with his friends.

According to an informant who notified the FBI of Nader Saadeh’s alleged plans to join ISIS, Saadeh also believed that ISIS’ execution of a Jordanian Air Force pilot by burning him alive and the killings of several staffers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paros were justified, court documents say.

FBI searches of Saadeh’s computer yielded evidence of Saadeh viewing ISIS propaganda online and researching flights to countries that border ISIS-controlled territories, according to prosecutors. Court documents also reveal that the FBI obtained emails sent to Saadeh from family members living overseas, including his mother, pleading for him to remain in the United States and not join ISIS.

“They seduce you under the flag of Islam, but when you get to them, you see things that make you hate your situation,” one email included in the court documents reads.

“Many young men left here and went to them. However, when they saw the situation there, they escaped and said: ‘We witnessed humiliation, insult, poverty, hunger, and cruel acts that have nothing to do with Islam and the religion.'”

The Saadehs are just a few of the Americans who have allegedly tried — in some cases successfully — to join ISIS, an Islamist terror group that has used often brutal tactics to take over vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The group touts an extreme form of Islam that rationalizes mass killings, kidnappings and other atrocities, like its twisted justification for selling off and having sex with girls and women who are “nonbelievers.”

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