Sajmir Alimehmeti, aka Abdul Qawii, 22, of the Bronx, New York, was arrested on May 24 for attempting to aid the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS).
Alimehmeti was arrested for attempted material support and making a false statement on an application for a U.S. passport, according to a Department of Justice statement.
“Alimehmeti was charged for his attempt to provide material support to ISIL by assisting a person who he believed was traveling to Syria to join ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin in the statement. “The National Security Division will continue to work with our partners to identify, disrupt and hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
In October 2014, Alimehmeti attempted to enter the U.K. but was denied entry after authorities located camouflage clothing and nunchucks in his luggage. Just two months later, he again attempted to get into the U.K. This time, he was denied because authorities found images of ISIS flags and improvised explosive devices on his cell phone, the statement said.
A further investigation turned up photos on his laptop of himself with an ISIS flag, pictures of ISIS fighters in the Middle East, pictures of himself making ISIS gestures in support of the terror group, and numerous audio files pertaining to “jihad” and martyrdom.
Alimehmeti’s continued support for ISIS remained evident, as an ISIS flag, among other supporting items, were located hanging in his Bronx apartment. Alimehmeti met with undercover law enforcement employees several times, and played ISIS-related videos for them from his computer and phone—some, even containing videos of the terror group decapitating prisoners.
Over the last year, Alimehmeti has purchased multiple military-styled knives, masks, handcuffs, a pocket chainsaw, and steel-knuckled gloves, according to the DoJ report.
Last October, he applied for a new passport claiming his had been lost—however, he told a different story to an undercover agent, admitting that it wasn’t lost, and that he needed a new passport to rid the rejection stamps of his older one, which would make his travel difficult.
This month, Alimehmeti had plans to assist an individual who told him he was traveling from New York to Syria to train and fight with ISIS—that individual was actually an undercover agent. On May 17, Alimehmeti met with the agent in New York City, who told him he had to buy some supplies before taking an overseas flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport later that night.
Alimehmeti agreed to help the agent with the shopping, which included a cellphone, boots, a compass, a bag and flashlight, among other items.
Alimehmeti advised the agent on the best boots to purchase, other items to purchase, and taught the agent how to use different kinds of encrypted communications apps, including an app that Alimehmeti stated was currently being used by “the brothers,” and downloaded three encrypted communications apps onto the agent’s new cellphone.
Finally, Alimehmeti assisted the agent in traveling from New York City to a hotel in Queens. The agent had planned to meet with a man (a “document facilitator”), who was preparing travel documentation that the agent would use to travel to Syria.
After repeatedly expressing his desire to travel to join ISIS, Alimehmeti then gave the agent a piece of paper with his name and contact information so that the agent could give it to the supposed document facilitator.
He excitedly stated: “I’m ready to . . . go with you man . . . you know I would. I’m done with this place.”
After leaving the hotel in Queens, Alimehmeti took the individual to JFK International Airport via public transportation.
He was arrested just a few hours later by federal agents inside his Norwood, Bronx, apartment. The agents were seen seizing boxes upon boxes of evidence after hauling away the 22-year-old.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for providing material support, as well as a maximum sentence of 10 years for making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport.
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo also put out a statement after the arrest.