A New York man and Alabama woman were arrested yesterday at a seaport in Newark, New Jersey on criminal charges related to their alleged attempt to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS).
According to court documents, James Bradley, 20, of the Bronx, New York, and Arwa Muthana, 29, of Hoover, Alabama, are ISIS supporters who attempted to travel to the Middle East to join and fight for ISIS. As alleged in the complaint, Bradley has expressed his support for ISIS and his desire to join the group overseas or commit a terrorist attack in the United States. Bradley and his wife, who has also expressed her support for ISIS, were arrested while attempting to travel together by cargo ship to the Middle East to join and fight for ISIS. Bradley and Muthana were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman in Manhattan federal court today.
“As alleged, the defendants planned to travel overseas to join and support ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The threat of terrorism at home and abroad remains, and the National Security Division is committed to holding accountable those who would provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case.”
Bradley and Muthana are charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which also carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Since at least 2019, Bradley has expressed violent extremist views, including his desire to support ISIS by traveling overseas to join the group or committing a terrorist attack in the United States. In May 2020, Bradley stated to an undercover law enforcement officer (UC-1) that he believed that ISIS may be good for Muslims because ISIS was establishing a caliphate. Bradley further expressed his desire to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States and discussed potentially seeking to attack the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Bradley explained that if he could not leave the United States because he might be on a terrorism watch list, he would do “something” in the United States instead, referring to carrying out an attack.
In June 2020, Bradley stated to UC-1 that his plan to attack a military base was something he really wanted to do and that it would be his contribution to the cause of jihad. In January 2021, Bradley mentioned to UC-1 another university in New York State where he frequently saw Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets training. Bradley stated that he could use his truck in an attack, and that he along with Muthana could take all of the ROTC cadets “out.”
In late January 2021, Bradley married Muthana in an Islamic marriage ceremony. Beginning before and continuing after their marriage, Bradley and Muthana discussed, planned, and ultimately attempted to travel to the Middle East together in order to join and fight with ISIS. In or about early March 2021, Bradley traveled from New York to Alabama to visit Muthana. Bradley and Muthana subsequently traveled together to New York in order to begin their journey to join ISIS. Thereafter, Bradley raised the possibility of UC-1 helping Bradley and Muthana get on a cargo ship to travel to Asia or Africa for the purpose of ultimately joining and fighting for ISIS. UC-1 subsequently put Bradley in contact with a purported associate who could assist Bradley in making arrangements for Bradley and Muthana to travel to the Middle East via cargo ship. In reality, the purported facilitator was a law enforcement officer acting in an undercover capacity (UC-2).
Later in March 2021, Bradley met with UC-2 and expressed his desire to travel via cargo ship and to “fight among the rank[s] of the Islamic State.” In a subsequent meeting with UC-2, Bradley provided UC-2 $1,000 in cash as travel costs for Bradley and Muthana to take a cargo ship to Yemen. Bradley told UC-2 that he and Muthana both planned to be “fighting” after arriving in the Middle East. Bradley also told UC-2 that he had a dream that he had given “bay’ah,” an Arabic term meaning the oath of allegiance, to Abu Ibrahim al-hashimi al-Qurashi, the current leader of ISIS.
On March 25, 2021, UC-2 told Bradley that the cargo ship would be leaving on Wednesday, March 31, from a seaport in Newark, New Jersey. Bradley praised Allah and confirmed he and Muthana planned to travel on the ship.
On March 31, 2021, Bradley and Muthana met with UC-2 en route to the seaport. During the course of this meeting, Muthana confirmed to UC-2 that she was traveling to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. Bradley and Muthana were arrested as they walked on a gangplank to board the cargo ship. After Muthana was arrested, she waived her Miranda rights and stated during an interview that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah. Also on March 31, 2021, in connection with a court-authorized search, the FBI seized from a bedroom previously used by Bradley what appears to be a hand-drawn image of a jihadi flag commonly used by ISIS and a hand-drawn map of the Pakistan region.