A Bronx man accused of supporting ISIS and committing passport fraud to try to facilitate a trip to go fight with the terror group pleaded guilty to the charges today in Manhattan federal court.
Sajmir Alimehmeti, 24, tried to enter the United Kingdom twice in 2014 but was stopped because of questionable items in his luggage, including nunchucks on the first attempt and, on the second try, ISIS flag photos on his cell phone.
“Further forensic examination of the contents of the cellphone and Alimehmeti’s laptop computer showed numerous indicia of Alimehmeti’s support for ISIS, including a photograph of Alimehmeti with an ISIS flag in the background, images of ISIS fighters in the Middle East, a photograph of Alimehmeti making a gesture of support for ISIS, various files relating to jihad and martyrdom, and electronic communications in which Alimehmeti assisted another ISIS supporter in efforts to travel to Syria to join ISIS by providing contact information for an ISIS affiliate who could facilitate the travel,” said the Justice Department.
Alimehmeti returned to the U.S. as an all-out ISIS supporter, even hanging the black-and-white flag in his Bronx apartment and saving beheading videos on his computer.
In October 2015, Alimehmeti claimed his passport had been lost and applied for a new one. He would tell an undercover officer that he really wanted a passport free of the UK rejection stamps so he could easily travel to the Islamic State. He also helped an undercover law enforcement employee prepare for what he believed to be a trip to join ISIS.
“Within days of seeking to facilitate the UC’s travel to join ISIS, Alimehmeti indicated during a call to his brother in Albania that that he had learned of a new way to obtain a passport for his own travel (referring to the UC’s purported document facilitator), and that a ‘friend of mine’ (referring to the UC) had ‘just [done] it two days ago,'” said the DOJ.
Alimehmeti was arrested in May 2016; officers reportedly discovered “a collection of combat knives and other military-type equipment that Alimehmeti had purchased and stored at his apartment” along with his ISIS fanboy collection.
He is scheduled for sentencing June 7, and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization along with a maximum of 25 years in prison for making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport with the intent to induce the issuance of a passport to facilitate an act of international terrorism.