An American married couple has pleaded guilty to charges related to their plot to leave the U.S. and join the Islamic State terrorist group.
Arwa Muthana, 30, of Hoover, Alabama, and James Bradley aka Abdullah, 21, of the Bronx, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Their guilty pleas were secured as a result of monthslong surveillance by undercover law enforcement officers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Bradley had been interested in going overseas to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, and committing a terrorist act against the U.S. since at least 2019, said court documents.
In May 2020, he told an undercover officer about his desire to carry out a terrorist attack in the U.S., with a potential target being the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. When meeting with the same undercover officer a month later, Bradley again expressed his interest in attacking a military base to further the cause of the jihad.
In January 2021, he told the undercover officer that he and Muthana could use a truck to attack Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets that he saw training at another New York University.
Prosecutors said that Bradley and Muthana were married later that same month. Around March 2021, Bradley went to Alabama to see Muthana, and the two traveled back to New York to join ISIS in the Middle East.
Bradley contacted the undercover officer about possibly helping them get on a cargo ship to travel to Asia or Africa so they could eventually join ISIS. Federal prosecutors said that the undercover officer put Bradley in touch with a different undercover officer who could make the travel arrangements for them.
Bradley told the second undercover officer that he wanted to travel to the Middle East to “fight among the rank[s] of the Islamic State,” and that his wife had planned to be fighting as well, according to the attorney’s office. Bradley also told the undercover officer that he had a dream where he pledged an oath of allegiance to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the former leader of ISIS.
He then paid the undercover officer $1,000 in cash to take a cargo ship to Yemen. The couple went to the port in Newark, New Jersey, on March 31, 2021, where Muthana also told the second undercover officer that she was making the trip to fight for ISIS.
Federal prosecutors said that the couple was arrested as they were attempting to board the ship.
While in custody, Muthana waived her Miranda rights and told authorities that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah. Authorities also found that the couple had each posted content online that was supportive of ISIS.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Bradley and Muthana will be sentenced in February.