Two men were in US police custody on Monday charged with conspiracy to kill American troops abroad in what has been described by officials as the nation’s latest terror probe.
Mohamed Alessa, 20, and Carlos Almonte, 24, were detained late Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport as they sought to board planes to Egypt, with plans to travel on to Somalia, justice officials said.
They were accused of hatching a plot to commit “murder, kidnapping and maiming” of US citizens “at a place outside the United States,” according to a criminal complaint filed in a US court in the northeastern state of New Jersey.
Authorities said the men were caught as part of an undercover operation that spanned some three-and-a-half years, after being tipped off by an informant through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website.
An affidavit filed ahead of Saturday’s arrests said the two men were planning to go to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab, an organization of several thousand fighters with ties to Al Qaeda. They men had trained in “various hand-to-hand fighting tactics,” as well as in the simulated use of weapons, according to an affidavit from an FBI agent investigating the case, Samuel Robinson.