The FBI says images on New York man Sajmir Alimehmeti’s computer show him “in Middle Eastern attire making the same index-finger pointing gesture” as ISIS fighters in other photos. Photo Credit: FBI/
A Bronx man considered an Islamic State sympathizer was arrested Tuesday and charged with attempting to provide “material support” to the terror group, federal officials said.
Sajmir Alimehmeti, 22, also known as Abdul Qawii, also was charged with making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport, officials at the U.S. Department of Justice said. Alimehmeti is scheduled to appear for arraignment Tuesday before a U.S. magistrate.
If convicted, Alimehmeti faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, justice officials said.
The arrest was announced Tuesday by assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York field office, Diego Rodriguez, and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
Authorities said that in October 2014 Alimehmeti “attempted to enter the United Kingdom” but he was denied entry after authorities there found “camouflage clothing and nunchucks” in his luggage.
That December, officials said, Alimehmeti was again denied entry to the U.K. — this time after authorities found that “his cellphone contained images of ISIL flags,” as well as “improvised explosive device attacks.” Additional forensic examination of images on that cellphone and Alimehmeti’s laptop computer showed “numerous indications” of his support for ISIS.
Those images included a “picture of Alimehmeti with an ISIL flag in the background, pictures of ISIL fighters in the Middle East, a picture of Alimehmeti “making a gesture of support” for the terror group and “numerous” audio files “relating to Jihad and martyrdom,” authorities said.
On his return to the United States, officials said, Alimehmeti “continued to express his support” for ISIS — even “displaying an ISIL flag” in his Bronx apartment.
In meetings with “undercover law enforcement employees” officials said Alimehmeti played “multiple ISIL-related videos” on his computer and phone, including decapitation videos.
He also made “multiple purchases” of “military-style knives” and “other military-type equipment,” including “masks, handcuffs, a pocket chain-saw and steel-knuckled gloves,” officials said. Those purchases were made during the past 11 months, authorities said.
Last October, officials said Alimehmeti applied for a new U.S. passport, claiming his previous passport had been “lost.”
Authorities said Alimehmeti later told an undercover operative that his prior passport had, in fact, not been lost — but said he applied for a new one “because he believed rejection stamps on his old passport, including rejection stamps from his attempted entries into the United Kingdom, would make it difficult to travel.”
Earlier this month, authorities said Alimehmeti also “attempted to assist an individual who was purportedly traveling from New York to Syria” to “train and fight with ISIL” but who, in actuality, was also an undercover law enforcement agent.