At a Glance - February 13

Leader of New York/New Jersey Cell Was in Contact With ISIS “Attack Facilitator”

As part of his guilty plea to federal terrorism charges last week, Munther Saleh, age 21, of Queens, New York (see photo)—the leader of an extremist cell that included three New Jersey residents—admitted that he sought and received instructions from an “attack facilitator” for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and discussed with him potential targets for a terrorist attack in New York City, according to the US Justice Department. In court, a prosecutor identified the “attack facilitator” as Junaid Hussain, a British national who joined ISIS in Syria and became one of the group’s most effective online recruiters before he was killed. The prosecutor said Hussain encouraged Saleh and co-defendant Fareed Mumuni, age 22, of Staten Island, New York (who also pleaded guilty last week), to use a pressure-cooker bomb for a homegrown terrorist attack modeled on the Boston Marathon bombings.

Saleh and Mumuni were the last of the six members of the cell to plead guilty to terrorism charges of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. The New Jersey cell members—Nader Saadeh, Alaa Saadeh, and Samuel Topaz—pleaded guilty in 2015.

According to court documents, Saleh told ISIS fighters that his five co-conspirators in New York and New Jersey had encountered continuous surveillance by law enforcement officers. Saleh also sought and received religious authorization from an ISIS fighter for Mumuni to conduct a suicide “martyrdom” attack by using a pressure-cooker bomb against law enforcement officers who were following the co-conspirators and thus preventing them from traveling to join ISIS.

On June 13, 2015, Saleh and another individual—both armed with knives—were arrested in Queens after they charged at a federal officer who was conducting surveillance on Saleh. After his arrest, Saleh admitted to agents that he had discussed with Mumuni attacking the law enforcement officers who were conducting surveillance on Mumuni. On June 17, 2015, while a search warrant was being executed on his residence in Staten Island, Mumuni was arrested after he repeatedly stabbed an FBI agent in the midsection with a large kitchen knife. Because he was wearing protective body armor, the agent suffered only minor wounds.

Court documents also describe how as part of their support for ISIS, Saleh and other co-conspirators assisted Nader Saadeh with his planned travel to join ISIS.


Israel: Six Wounded in Shooting and Stabbing Attack at Market East of Tel Aviv

A Palestinian opened fire on a bus near a market (photo shows bullet hole in windshield) and stabbed at shoppers, wounding six people on February 9 at Petah Tikva, about six miles east of Tel Aviv. An Israeli police spokesman said police have confirmed it as a “terror attack” and have arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian from Nablus, on the West Bank. The attacker continued firing as civilians chased him. He fled into a sewing machine shop, where he stabbed a man with a screwdriver before civilians threw a sewing machine and chairs at him and subdued him.

Three Israelis were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and a man is in stable condition with stab wounds. Two other people were injured in the chase.

Since September 2015, Palestinians have conducted numerous stabbings, shootings, and vehicle rammings. However, most of these have occurred in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem. Last week’s attack was unusual in that it is one of only a few that have occurred in the central part of Israel proper.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.