More details are emerging about the two NJ men who are accused of wanting to go to Somalia to join a violent extremist group and ultimately kill American troops. Mohamed Hamoud Alessa, 20, and Carlos Almonte, 24, were arrested over the weekend at JFK Airport, about to head to Cairo, after a years-long investigation into their alleged plans for jihad. However, reports suggest they had troubled youths.
According to the Bergen Record, Alessa left North Bergen High School in 2004 to attended a private Islamic school because of, a school spokesman said, "concerns of safety and well-being of other students and school personnel." And while attending KAS Prep in 2005, he "talked about mutilating homosexuals, subordinating women in the name of Islam and bringing a gang of Muslims to blow up the school."
A KAS Prep school official said, "Everyone tried to help this kid, he’s just an angry young man." Authorities started to monitor Alessa after a tip in 2006; in 2007, he returned to North Bergen High "but took his lessons in the township’s public library with a security guard present."
As for Almonte, he has "arrests for weapons possession"—which was later dismissed—"and underage drinking" while a high school student at Elmwood Park High School, where he "was not pictured in either his junior and senior yearbooks...He was listed among the students who were 'camera shy.'" Almonte's family blames Alessa for being a bad influence, with his sister telling the Daily News, "This guy Mohamed brought a lot of trouble. My father didn't want him in the house ...he brainwashed [Carlos] and tried to convert us too." Both suspects' families reportedly cooperated with authorities.
A former US Attorney pointed out how the feds could have arrested the pair in NJ, but chose to arrest them at the airport: "Arresting them at the airport shows greater evidence of their intent to go through with their actions." However, a Brooklyn resident who knew both men from the Arab-American community in NJ told the AP, "These were just young, zealous kids who had zeal because they perceived their religion is under attack in America and they spoke out. I think they were just wild-eyed, with aims that would have been impossible to carry out."