‘I wanna be world’s worst-known terrorist’
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Two New Jersey men bound for Somalia to join a militant group and to kill American troops were arrested at Kennedy International Airport late Saturday, authorities said.
The men, Mohamed Haoud Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, were to join Al Shabaab, which claims ideological kinship with al-Qaeda.
The men were taken into custody as they prepared to take separate flights to Egypt and then to Somalia to join Al Shabaab.
They were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring to kill, maim and kidnap people outside the US and were expected to be arraigned in federal court in Newark on Monday.
The men have been under FBI scrutiny since 2006, after agents received a tip. An undercover officer from the New York Police Department (NYPD) recorded numerous meetings with them, during which they discussed their plans, according to the complaint against them.
The arrests were first reported Sunday in The Star-Ledger. The two men, both US citizens — Almonte lives in Elmwood Park, NJ, and Alessa in North Bergen, NJ—physically conditioned themselves, engaged in paintball and tactical training, saved thousands for their trip and acquired military gear.
They talked about their obligation to wage violent jihad and expressed a willingness to commit acts of violence in the US. On November 29, 2009, for example, the complaint said Alessa told Almonte and the undercover: "They only fear you when you have a gun and when you — when you start killing them, and when you — when you take their head, and you go like this, and you behead it on camera . . . We'll start doing killing here, if I can't do it over there." "I wanna, like, be the world's worst-known terrorist," he allegedly said.
On April 25, Almonte said that there would soon be US troops in Somalia — which he called a good development because it would not be as gratifying to kill only Africans.