[CBS LOCAL] Terror Suspect Arrested In NJ; NYPD On High Alert For July 4 Fireworks
June 29, 2015 11:23 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Another suspected member of a reportedly ISIS radicalized terror cell was arrested in New Jersey Monday, as the metropolitan area goes on hyper-alert for the threat of an attack during the Fourth of July holiday.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Monday, experts said they think the terror threats are very real, because ISIS is actively trying to radicalize people in the Tri-State Area.
Among those radicalized people, according to authorities, was Alaa Saadeh – the 23-year-old West New York, New Jersey man arrested Monday. He was believed to be part of a group interested in detonating a pressure cooker bomb at a New York landmark.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Criminal Complaint
Authorities charged Saadeh with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic Statemilitant organization and witness tampering. They said he tried to persuade a witness to lie to the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark told CBS2′ Jessica Schneider that Saadeh was remanded without bail.
According to a criminal complaint, Saadeh, in a recorded conversation, revealed his support for the terror group “including its use of beheadings and mass killings to impose its violent agenda.”
Saadeh allegedly said he was ready to join the fight, and “pick up my life and go to Jordan, or go overseas and go live over there.”
Referring to ISIS, he allegedly said, “If I think they’re good, why not?”
Saadeh was the fifth person arrested recently on terror-related charges in New York and New Jersey.
Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, of Fort Lee, was charged earlier this month with conspiring to join ISIS. Meanwhile, a Rutherford man who is Saddeh’s brother traveled to the Middle East in May to join the group and was arrested in Jordan, authorities said.
The criminal complaint alleges Topaz had numerous meetings and exchanged text messages and phone calls with Saddeh, his brother and 20-year-old Munther Omar Saleh. The college student from Queens was arrested this month and charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Saleh allegedly cased the George Washington Bridge and was reportedly seeking to explode a pressure-cooker bomb like the ones used at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Another defendant, Fareed Mumini, allegedly conspired with Saleh and tried to kill an FBI agent with a knife during his arrest on Staten Island.
Prosecutors claimed Saadeh told another individual that he suspected that Saleh or Topaz had “snitched” on his brother and caused his arrest overseas, and that, if true, Saadeh thought he would have to “kill someone.”
“To have this number of people with this level of sophistication acting in such a close geographic area in such a compressed period of time – we have to, I think, assume the worst,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
The NYPD and some 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the nation have been ordered by Homeland Security officials to be especially “vigilant and prepared” for the possibility of an attack during the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks show celebrations. ISIS has asked supporters to murder the enemy this month during Ramadan.
“The two main fears I would have would be the random attack — as we saw with hatchets or knives against individuals – probably police officers or uniformed personnel; military people who might be on leave. And the other is the IED – the improvised explosive device,” King said.
The NYPD, sources told CBS2, is especially concerned about a planned attack with multiple actors, which could include either one large explosion or a series of smaller explosions.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department has been working “on a very elaborate plan as we normally have for crowd control, but heightened in some respects by the concerns for acts of potential terrorism – as reflected by the number of the arrests that have been made in this locale in the last couple of weeks.
“What we’re always worried about (is) it’s not so much what we know but what we don’t know,” he told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters added that the NYPD remains vigilant all the time — and will be particularly vigilant for the upcoming celebration.
“We see ourselves as the target. We understand that, we accept that, and we’re going to protect against it,” Waters said. “So there is going to be very robust deployment of both patrol resources; plainclothes resources; technology.”
There will be “things that you see, and things that, of course, you will not be able to see.”
The three terror attacks Friday in Kuwait, France and Tunisia last week and the demand by ISIS for attacks against the enemy during Ramadan, which ends July 17, has the NYPD putting in place a broad plan of action, sources said.
“I would say that this is the most serious level of threat that I’ve seen since September 11th, (2001),” King said.
With the fireworks on Manhattan’s East Side this year, the FDR Drive will be swept for explosives from both land and sea. And to protect crowds from a possible car bomb, sanitation trucks filled with sand will act as barriers.
• Trash cans will be removed
• Manhole covers will be welded into place
• Snipers will be strategically placed
• Spotters will be placed in the crowd
• 100 mobile cameras will be used on land and in the air.
Terror warnings seem almost routine on the Fourth of July. But former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said not this year.
“This one really resonates with me,” Morell said. “There’s been about 50 people in the last 12 months who’ve been arrested in the United States for being radicalized by ISIS, wanting to go fight there or wanting to connect and attack here.”
Rep. King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, also advised that people who live in Muslim communities in particular should be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
“People who live in Muslim communities – I believe they have a real obligation, because that is where I believe the threat is likely to come from,” King said. “If anyone living in a Muslim community sees anything at all out of the ordinary, report that to the police immediately.”
ISIS has been in overdrive on social media sites, urging followers and lone wolves radicalized to their cause to attack the enemy. One report estimated the group was behind 90,000 social media posts a day.