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Albanian National Arrested at JFK Airport en Route to Fight Jihad
An indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn this morning charging Agron Hasbajrami, a legal U.S. resident and Albanian citizen residing in New York City, with providing material support to terrorists.1 Hasbajrami is scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge John Gleeson.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York Police Department.
According to the indictment and a detention motion filed by the government, Hasbajrami devised a plan to travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (the “FATA”) for the purpose of joining a radical jihadist fighting group in Pakistan. In pursuing this goal, Hasbajrami exchanged e-mail messages with a contact in Pakistan who advised Hasbajrami that the contact’s fighting group was engaged in violent military operations and had killed American troops. Hasbajrami told his contact that he wished to travel abroad to “marry with the girls in paradise,” using jihadist rhetoric to describe his desire to die as a martyr.
According to the government’s court filings, Hasbajrami sent over $1,000 to Pakistan to support his contact’s terrorist efforts. When asked to collect money from fellow Muslims for the terrorist cause, Hasbajrami reported that fundraising was difficult in New York because his fellow Muslims became apprehensive “when they hear it is for jihad.”
In August 2011, Hasbajrami purchased an airline ticket to travel to Turkey en route to Pakistan, but cancelled it. Hasbajrami then purchased another airline ticket to travel to Turkey on September 6, 2011. He was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, when he arrived to board his flight to Turkey carrying a tent, boots and cold-weather gear. A search of Hasbajrami’s residence revealed, among other items, a note reading “Do not wait for invasion, the time is martyrdom time.”
“The vigilance of law enforcement has resulted in the capture of another alleged aspiring terrorist bent on traveling overseas for violent jihad,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We will spare no effort in stopping terrorists before they strike.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI and NYPD for their extraordinary work in leading the government’s investigation.
If convicted of providing material support to terrorists, Hasbajrami faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew S. Amatruda and Seth D. DuCharme with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Courtney Sullivan of the DOJ Counterterrorism Section.
1The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.