YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A 20-year-old Jordanian national who previously lived in Rutherford until he left the country in May was arrested by federal agents this morning on charges of supporting foreign terrorism in Iraq.
Nader Saadeh conspired with others in New Jersey and New York to provide services and personnel to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Saadeh, who authorities said flew to the Middle East three months ago to join ISIL, was scheduled for a first appearance in federal court in Newark this afternoon.
He joins his brother, Alaa Saadeh of West New York, who was arrested in late June, and Samuel Rahamin Topaz, a Fort Lee resident who formerly sang in a rock band from Englewood who was taken into custody two weeks earlier.
The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) also arrested an unnamed cooperator from Queens in mid-June.
According to a release issued by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel:
“Between 2012 and 2013, Nader Saadeh sent [the cooperator] electronic messages expressing his hatred for the United States and desire to form a small army that would include their friends.
“On July 1, 2014, the day ISIL’s leader declared an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq, Nader Saadeh posted on his Facebook page images of ISIL’s flag and the flag of the Islamic caliphate.
“According to an informant who was close to him for years, by April 2015, Nader Saadeh had become radicalized supporter of ISIL who was preparing to travel overseas with other individuals.
“Nader Saadeh said that ISIL’s execution of a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot by burning him alive and the murders of several staff members of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, earlier this year were justified.”
FBI agents obtained computer files showing that Saadeh “viewed ISIL propaganda videos and researched the availability of flights to Turkey, which borders Syria, where ISIL claims to control territory,” the release says.
“The FBI also obtained electronic messages sent to Nader Saadeh on April 21, 2015, by family members living overseas, including his mother, who pleaded for him not to join ISIL,” it says.
Saadah was accompanied by his brother and the cooperator to JFK Airport in Queens on May 5, 2015 for his trip to the Middle East, federal authorities said. Together they made plans “to reunite overseas in a few weeks,” the release says.
Topaz told the FBI that he agreed with the Saadeh brothers and the cooperator to join ISIL, it says.
“Alaa Saadeh told the FBI in a post-arrest interview that he, Nader Saadeh, and Topaz all watched ISIL propaganda videos together and discussed going overseas to join ISIL,” the release adds.
The night before, Alaa Saadeh reportedly told federal agents, the cooperator gave his brother “the name and number of an ISIL contact near the Turkey/Syria border who would facilitate Nader Saadeh’s travel to ISIL-controlled territory,” it says.
Fishman credited the FBI and the JTTF with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
Handling the case for the government are Assistant U.S. Attorneys L. Judson Welle, Dennis C. Carletta, and Francisco J. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Robert J. Sander of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.