Federal authorities arrested two New Jersey men late Saturday night as they tried to leave the country for terrorist training camps in war-torn Somalia, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The men, identified as 20-year-old Mohamed Hamoud Alessa and 26-year-old Carlos Eduardo Almonte, were taken into custody by FBI agents and others at J.F.K. International Airport outside New York City. They were set to take separate flights to Egypt and then make their way to Somalia, where an Al Qaeda-linked group known as al-Shabaab has been warring with the nation’s fledgling transitional government.
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One source called Somalia “the Afghanistan of now,” suggesting that the near-anarchist state in Somalia has allowed the country to become a fertile training ground for terrorist recruits from around the world.
Alessa, a U.S. citizen, and Almonte, a Jordanian citizen believed to also have dual U.S. citizenship, “grew up” in the United States, becoming the latest in a “disconcerting pattern” of “people living among us” who are radicalized with extremist ideology, one source said.
The men did not pose an “imminent threat,” but “getting on planes to receive” terrorist training means they posed a broader threat, the source said.