Parveg Ahmed, 22, of New York City’s Queens County, was nabbed after he flew from New York to Saudi Arabia and then tried to enter Syria, law enforcement officials, according to a U.S. Justice Department report on Tuesday. Ahmad was captured just as he was headed to the Syrian border.
After the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Forces obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s personal computer in July they discovered that he had been listening to Internet messages from radical Islamic terrorist organizations. One of the recordings was from Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican born cleric in the United Kingdom who was found guilty of solicitation to commit murder.
In addition, a cell phone search warrant turned up messages Ahmed sent to people expressing his intentions to travel to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controlled territory. There was also a message revealing his plans to join ISIS in Syria and to wage war against a coalition of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the Shi’ite terrorist network Hezbollah, Russian military and others fighting Sunni Muslim groups. His browser history also turned up research of maps of ISIS controlled locations, according to the DoJ..
Ahmed was officially charged with the federal crime of attempting to provide material support for groups involved in terrorism. He was scheduled to make his initialappearance before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday, August 30.
“As alleged, Ahmed sought to take up arms with violent terrorists who have killed numerous innocent victims, including Americans,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde. “This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to arrest and prosecute extremists before they are able to threaten the United States and its allies.” Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), as well as the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance.
“As we allege, Parveg Ahmed attempted to travel to Syria aligning himself with ISIS instead of his fellow Americans. Like others before him who chartered a similar path to join this violent terror group, Ahmed now finds his journey ends the same way – in a New York courtroom answering for his actions,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force has a global reach and remains vigilant to the type of threat we allege was posed by Ahmed. I would like to thank all of our partner agencies for their continued vigilance. I would also encourage the community to notify law enforcement when they spot suspicious activity and behavior which helps the JTTF disrupt individuals aiming to conduct violence.”
“This man betrayed his own country to allegedly take up arms against it in the name of ISIS,” stated Homeland Security Investigations’ Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez. “The JTTF’s proactive identification of individuals, like the defendant before any harm could be done against our nation, highlights the very principles on which the task force was founded.”
“As alleged, the defendant traveled to the Middle East in an effort to join ISIS. Mr. Ahmed also took extraordinary measures to destroy the electronic foot print he created,” said the NYPD’s Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “This type of work goes on every day at the nation’s first Joint Terrorism Task Force here in Manhattan. My thanks to the detectives, agents, and prosecutors whose investigation resulted in today’s arrest and charges.”
According to the released statement by the agencies involved in the accused terrorist’s case:
As alleged in the complaint, the defendant traveled to Saudi Arabia in June 2017, purportedly to celebrate an Islamic religious holiday. Upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia, the defendant attempted to travel to Syria to enter ISIS-controlled territory. The defendant was detained in a Middle Eastern country bordering Syria.
Previously, the defendant had repeatedly expressed support on social media for ISIS and for individuals who provided support to the foreign terrorist organization’s mission of violent extremism. On July 17, 2017, JTTF agents obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s personal computer, and learned, among other things, that the defendant had viewed or listened to recordings of radical Islamic clerics Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States-born cleric and prominent leader of the foreign terrorist organization al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was killed on or about September 30, 2011, and Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican-born cleric, who was found guilty in the United Kingdom of, among other things, solicitation to commit murder, for preaching to followers to kill individuals, including Americans, because he deemed them to be enemies of Islam. On August 28, 2017, JTTF agents obtained a search warrant for electronic devices found in the defendant’s possession when he was detained attempting to travel to Syria. (See video featuring Abdullah el-Faisal posted below.)
Examination of the devices revealed, among other things, the following:
Messages sent to third parties expressing a desire to travel to ISIS-controlled territories.
A message explaining that the defendant planned to join ISIS in Syria to wage violent jihad stating, “[W]e have made it to Dawlatul Islam [ISIS] in Syria. In sha Allah [God willing] we will join the Jihad very soon and in Sha Allah [God willing] we will then join the ranks of the Shuhuda [martyrs]. The West has invaded the land of the Muslims and is constantly attacking it.”
An internet browser history that indicates the defendant was researching maps of ISIS-controlled locations.
The defendant was handed over to the United States on August 28, and he was officially arrested and given his Miranda Warnings at John F. Kennedy International Airport, also located in Queens.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in a federal maximum security prison.
Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a columnist, and a contributor to the nationally syndicated talk-radio program, the Chuck Wilder Show..
He's former chief of police at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.