A 20-year-old Queens man was indicted this week for his support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and for wielding a knife at a federal officer, officials announced.
A federal grand jury in Brooklyn handed down the indictment on Monday charging Munther Omar Saleh, reportedly of Flushing, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, and assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The indictment accuses Saleh not only of conspiring to “provide material support to ISIL” but also of devising “a plan to conduct an attack in New York,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said. Authorities believe he was preparing to specifically detonate a pressure cooker bomb in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL.
In a criminal complaint filed upon his June arrest, Saleh, a U.S. citizen who enrolled in a Queens college specializing in aeronautics in January, demonstrated his “violent jihadists beliefs” and support of ISIL through his online activities.
That online activity included tweets in support of recent terrorist attacks, translating propaganda materials to English for ISIL, and a May 7 email to himself that contained information about the construction of a pressure cooker bomb and searches for parts that could be used in an explosive device.
Authorities also believe that his activities revealed a “continuing effort to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL, including by learning how to construct and detonate an explosive device,” according to court documents.
There were additionally searches of New York City landmarks and tourist attractions, surveillance cameras, weapons, ammunition, remote control helicopters and drones that piqued law enforcement interest.
Saleh and another individual were arrested on June 13 near 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway after they allegedly charged at a federal officer while armed with knives.
The same indictment also charges Fareed Mumuni, a 21-year-old Staten Island resident and U.S. citizen, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, and attempted murder of federal officers.
Authorities arrested Mumuni just days after Saleh, reportedly believing they both conspired to provide support to ISIL and planned to carry out an attack on New York.
During the execution of a search warrant on Saleh’s home, he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab a FBI agent in the torso with a large kitchen knife, and was arrested. The agent was wearing body armor and reportedly suffered only minor injuries.
Both men’s arraignments are scheduled for Aug. 20. If convicted, Mumuni faces a maximum sentence of 85 years imprisonment and Saleh faces a maximum sentence of 65 years.