Tag Archives: homeland security

Queens man ‘ready to die’ for ISIS arrested on terrorism charges: FBI

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A 22-year-old man who claimed to be “ready to die” for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) was arrested at his Queens home by federal agents Thursday morning for allegedly making efforts to support the Mideast terrorist group.

Ali Saleh, whose exact address was not disclosed, allegedly made multiple unsuccessful attempts to travel to the area under ISIS control. His first failed attempt reportedly came when he booked a reservation for a flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Istanbul, which he did not make.

“I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing,” he allegedly tweeted days before the scheduled flight.

In July of this year, prosecutors said, Saleh made additional attempts to travel to the Middle East and support ISIS, initially booking a flight from JFK to Cairo, Egypt. He allegedly used his Twitter account to reach out to an ISIS supporter known to instruct followers on how to travel to Libya, where ISIS is also present.

But Saleh did not board the flight to Cairo after speaking with airline personnel, federal agents said. In the days that followed, he made additional attempts to board flights bound for the Middle East out of Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International airports, only to be refused boarding.

Undeterred, authorities noted, Saleh then traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, and attempted to board a train bound for Toronto, Canada, with the alleged intention of picking up a flight there to the Middle East. When Canadian authorities denied him permission to board the train to enter Canada, according to the criminal complaint, Saleh took a train back to New York City.

“Saleh was relentless in his attempts to travel to the Middle East to join a terrorist organization,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Kelly Currie.

“By his own words, Ali Saleh was willing to pledge allegiance to, and die for ISIL, an organization that has called for terrorist attacks against the United States,” added Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “Saleh’s attempts to travel to Syria and ISIL’s battlefields were halted by good intelligence and smart law enforcement.”

Saleh is the latest Queens resident to be busted for allegedly attempting to support terrorist organizations. In April, two Jamaica women were indicted on accusations of plotting an attack within the U.S. using, as one example, explosive devices similar to those used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Then in June, a 20-year-old Flushing man named Munther Omar Saleh (no reported relation) was arrested on charges of attempting to support ISIS.


Rep. King discuses homeland security over JFK Airport Chamber of Commerce breakfast

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata


While JFK may be the “safest airport” in the country, far too many people do not take homeland security seriously enough, U.S. Rep. Peter King told an airport civic group on Wednesday.

King, speaking at a JFK Airport Chamber of Commerce breakfast, said airport workers, including Transportation Security Administration and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey personnel, have been successful in hardening the facility against terrorist attacks.

“This is the safest airport in the United States because of these people,” King said.

But, he added, many people are lax on the issue of security.

“Too many people in the U.S. do not take homeland security seriously enough,” said the 11-year congressman. “It is important that we stay aware.

“New York is the number one target [for terrorists].”

King was introduced by Tom Kelliher, president of the Chamber, as “the leader in the ongoing effort of homeland security,” an important topic to one of the nation’s busiest airports.

Raised in Sunnyside, King is the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and now chairs a subcommittee on counter-terrorism.

He is outspoken on terror and security issues.

“The reality is [some] people in this country have foreign ideology,” he said. “Al-Qaida is adaptive.”

Though the hot topic was the nation’s security, King also discussed the issue of federal funding for Superstorm Sandy victims in New York.

“We had to fight tooth and nail for funding,” he said.

He noted that there had been conflict with insurance companies but the issues have been resolved and the money is now coming through to homeowners and businesses.

“Overall,” he said, “the job is being done and districts are coming back.”



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Sunshine early followed by cloudy skies this afternoon. High 42. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night Cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. Low 36. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Live Music Thursdays at Rest-au-Rant

Join Matt Turk and Gary Schreiner to listen to live music and enjoy some delicious food at the same time at Rest-au-Rant on 35th Avenue. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Homeland Security to cut NYPD bomb detection funding after Obama says NYC nuclear blast bigger concern than Russia

The NYPD may be forced to make do as the Department of Homeland Security announces massive budget cuts to its bomb detection program. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Federal government proposes new safety standards for train doors

The government Tuesday proposed new safety standards for railroad train doors partly due to accidents in New York and New Jersey, one of them deadly. Read more: New York Daily News

Deal close on $142B state budget

Legislative leaders Wednesday were nearing a deal on the $142 billion state budget that would include funding for Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten classes in New York City. Read more: New York Post

Cuomo: I will help de Blasio fix homeless problem

Gov. Cuomo vowed Wednesday to reach a deal with Mayor de Blasio that would let the city use state funds to move more homeless New Yorkers from shelters into apartments. Read more: New York Post

Giuliani slams de Blasio, says he has ‘real disagreements’ with mayor’s policy

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday, saying he has some “real disagreements” with the man now occupying his former desk at City Hall. Read more: CBS New York

Terrorist plot may affect student visa program

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The foiled terrorist plot to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank by a Bangladeshi national, living in Queens under a student visa, could extinguish the opportunity for future foreign students to attend school in the United States.

Senator Charles Schumer called for the immediate passage of legislation increasing the oversight of student visa programs following the discovery that alleged bombing suspect Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis entered the United States with a student visa in order to attended classes at Manhattan’s ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology.

This year, more than 850,000 active foreign students were in the United States.

An investigation headed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that “sham universities” have provided foreigners entry into the country without conducting thorough personal investigations. According to Schumer, early in 2012, Tri-Valley University in California was dismantled for selling student visas to 1,500 foreign nationals.

The school Nafis attended, Manhattan’s ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, is an accredited institution.

Schumer also pushed for investigations by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to determine if Nafis’ request for a visa should have been denied.

“This foiled attack must serve as a wake-up call. We need to shut down gaping loopholes allowing foreign nationals, some of whom may wish to do us harm, from entering the country through the student visa program,” said Schumer. “While the facts of this particular case are still coming to light, we do know that thousands of people have entered this country through sham universities like hand out student visas like candy, and that practice must end now.”

Under the Student Visa Integrity Act, providing false information to obtain a student visa means a mandatory two-year sentence; reasonable suspicion of fraud could expel a student from the program. The legislation also limits student visas to students attending accredited schools and prohibits any flight school that is not FAA-accredited from bringing in foreign students.

But excessive red tape can make it difficult for legitimate foreign students to study in the United States. Syracuse University student Andreacarola Urso applied for her student visa in June of 2012 in order to attend school in the United States. The 19-year-old from Naples, Italy, described the application process as lengthy, adding that the agency required her to prepare numerous documents proving she was financially stable, unmarried, maintained a permanent residence in her home country and was, in fact, legitimately Italian.

Urso’s student visa application fees amounted to $400.

The pre-med student said that while she was required to obtain an excessive number of forms for her meeting at the United States embassy in Italy, they were barely even skimmed.

“I thought the meeting would’ve been tougher, but in the end it was not,” said Urso. “I prepared all of those documents as I was told to, but they didn’t even look at them.”

Urso said the bomb plot could make it more difficult for students from other countries to obtain visas to attend school in the United States. While she believes it is ethical for officials to request documentation and perform background checks, she knows many people who were refused a visa because they seemed doubtful during their interview with the embassy.

“I think [parts of the screening process] are ridiculous,” said Urso. “It changes people’s futures since we apply a year earlier and get accepted to a university and then they refuse our visa. It’s disappointing. Obviously it’s not my case, but it is still a common problem.”

The Lunch Break – 11/21/2011: Mother Of Hamilton Heights Terror Plot Suspect Speaks Out, Offers Apology

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Grahpic by Jay Lane

Mother Of Hamilton Heights Terror Plot Suspect Speaks Out, Offers Apology

The mother of an alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer and Manhattan resident who has been arraigned on charges of plotting to detonate bombs in the city is speaking out. Authorities say Jose Pimentel, 27, was targeting US troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted to blow up post offices and police cars. Pimentel, a US citizen, is a native of the Dominican Republic who lived in Hamilton Heights. His mother, Carmen Sosa, says she’s shocked and saddened by the news. Read More: NY1


Police Barricades Protect Mayor Bloomberg From ‘24-Hour’ Drum Circle

The Occupy Wall Street protesters who had planned to throw a 24-hour drum circle party (a violation of several United Nations human rights treaties) outside NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Manhattan manse didn’t quite make it thanks to NYPD officers and barricades. Undaunted, they held their percussive party down the street.  Read More: Gawker

Financial Spat Could Delay Opening Of 9/11 Museum

The long-awaited opening of the National September 11th Museum could be delayed due to a simmering financial dispute between the Port Authority and museum officials. Sources tell NY1 museum construction at the World Trade Center Site has slowed because of hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns. Read More: NY1


Outdoor hockey games could come to West Side tennis stadium
Top NHL prospects may skate in outdoor games in Queens if plans go through to transform a tennis stadium that hosted the U.S. Open into an ice skating rink, the Daily News has learned. A hockey executive who runs the sport’s top minor league said he could envision games at West Side Stadium in Forest Hills. Read More: Daily News


Police Arrest Doctor Who Reportedly Filled Prescriptions for David Laffer

A pain management doctor who reportedly filled prescriptions for pharmacy killer David Laffer has been arrested. The charges against Stan Li, of Hamilton, N.J., were for a different case. Prosecutors allege he sold prescriptions to a man who later died of an overdose. Michael Cornetta, of Queens, died a year ago. Authorities alleged Li had provided him with dozens of prescriptions for controlled substances, including oxycodone. Read More: NBC News


A Thanksgiving to Remember: Four from Queens and Long Island Share $4,000,000 in Lottery Jackpot Prizes

The New York Lottery’s Yolanda Vega today awarded $4,000,000 in over-sized prize checks to four very thankful jackpot winners from Queens (Jackson Heights and Woodside) and Long Island (Port Jefferson Station and Shirley). The recently opened Times Square Casino at Resorts World Casino New York City in Queens served as the centerpiece for the Lottery’s special pre-Thanksgiving winner celebration. Read More: Read Media

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/21/2011: NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda

A Dominican Republic native living in Washington Heights is under arrest for conspiring to build a bomb for terror purposes and possessing a weapon with the intent of waging a campaign of violence in the name of al-Qaeda, New York City authorities announced Sunday night. Jose Pimentel, 27, was arrested by New York City police on Saturday. Investigators say Pimentel had also planned to use a bomb to kill U.S. military personnel returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had also allegedly expressed a desire to bomb police patrol cars and postal facilities. Read More: NY1


Queens Driver Charged With DWI

A Queens driver is facing multiple charges including driving while intoxicated in connection with a Saturday crash on the Long Island Expressway. Police say 37-year-old John Gilette was driving a Jeep Wrangler onto the expressway Saturday morning near the 48th Street ramp in Maspeth when he swerved into a tractor trailer. Gilette’s car hit the right side cabin of the trailer before hitting a wall. Read More: NY1

Brawl chaos at Astoria club

A Queens nightclub was the scene of a bizarre string of violence that left four men injured early yesterday, authorities said. Several thugs first jumped a 23-year-old man at Amnesia on Steinway Street in Astoria, slashing his back, at about 4:15 a.m., cops said. As the thugs ran out of the hot spot, other clubgoers fled, too, authorities said. One of the alleged attackers, Orlando Santos, 18, was running when a car — not believed to be connected to the fight — struck him, dislocating his hip. Read More: New York Post

Former Mayor Giuliani Pushes For More Nuclear Energy Use In Astoria Forum

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum in Astoria Friday with experts and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the keynote speaker, to discuss possibilities for clean and sustainable energy use, as the Bloomberg administration estimates the city will have one million more people by 2030. Watch the Video: NY1

Parents rip NYC schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott over ‘chaos’ at Queens high school


A Queens high school where the daughter of city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott teaches gym is so disorganized that many students don’t know where their classes are or when they start. Some kids at Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills have gotten 10 different class schedules in 11 weeks of instruction, angry parents say. But this is all news to Walcott, because he refuses to talk shop with his daughter. Read More: Daily News