Prosecutors – NBC New York
A New York City man and his wife were arrested after conspiring to support the ISIS terrorist group and attempting to board a cargo ship bound for the Middle East to join the group – and even discussed a domestic attack at the US Military Academy in West Point, prosecutors said.
James Bradley and his wife, Arwa Muthana, were detained at a seaport in Newark, New Jersey, by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday while attempting to board the ship for overseas voyages.
Bradley, 20, had expressed violent extremist views, including his support and desire to join ISIS, since at least 2019, according to prosecutors in the U.S. Southern District of New York. In May 2020, he told an undercover law enforcement officer that he thought ISIS was good for Muslims because of the caliphate it was trying to establish, the criminal complaint said. He also stated that he wanted to carry out a terrorist attack in the US, specifically over a possible attack at West Point.
Bradley, a Bronx resident, said if he couldn’t leave the country due to a terror watch list he might have been on, he would instead do “something” in the US that suggests an attack is being carried out Criminal complaint said. He told the undercover officer that attacking a military base would be his contribution to jihad. In January 2021, he also mentioned another university in New York where he often saw ROTC cadets train. He and Muthana could use his truck in an attack to “take out” all the cadets.
Before and after getting married later that month, Bradley and Muthana, 29, reportedly discussed their plans to go to the Middle East together to join ISIS. In early March, Bradley visited Muthana, Alabama, where she lives. The couple then traveled back to New York to complete the planning and begin their trip, according to the complaint.
Bradley asked the undercover officer if he would help them board a cargo ship en route to Asia or Africa, eventually heading to the Middle East. The undercover let him get in touch with someone he said he could help who was actually another undercover officer.
The two met later in the month when Bradley reiterated his desire to “fight among the ranks”[s] of the Islamic State. “In another meeting, according to the complaint, he gave $ 1,000 in cash to fund their trip by cargo ship to Yemen. He said that he and Muthana wanted to” fight “upon arrival and told the undercover that he had a dream, which he had given the current IS leader “Bay’ah”, an Arabic term that means the oath of allegiance, the documents said.
The undercover officer told Bradley that the cargo ship would depart Newark on March 31, and the two (along with Muthana) met that day to go. Muthana confirmed to the undercover officer that she wanted to fight for ISIS.
Both Bradley and Muthana were arrested while trying to board the cargo ship.
After she was arrested, Mthana said during an interview that, according to court documents, she would be willing to kill Americans if it were for Allah. On the same day of the arrest, FBI agents confiscated a hand-drawn picture of a jihad flag used by the terrorist group from Bradley’s bedroom, as well as a hand-drawn map of the Pakistani region, according to the court.
Bradley and Muthana are both charged with terrorism and appear before a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon. If convicted, they could both sit in prison for up to 40 years.