At a Glance | July 24

Alabama Defendant Planned to Attack Police or Military Building, Wanted to Conduct Multiple Attacks

Additional evidence in two homegrown terrorism cases last week—one in Alabama and another in California—shows that despite ISIS setbacks in Iraq and Syria, the group continues to attract extremist followers in the United States. In Alabama, court testimony by a police investigator provided new details about the intentions of Aziz Sayyed, of Huntsville (see photo). Testifying at a preliminary hearing, Huntsville police investigator Brad Snipes said that during the joint investigation with the FBI, which began in January, investigators made use of informants, who recorded conversations with Sayyed. The recordings were in Arabic, and were translated by the FBI. Snipes said that before his arrest, Sayyed was recorded saying that his targets would be non-civilian, such as police or military buildings in Madison County. Sayyed also said on the recordings that he did not want to die in a suicide attack, but that he wanted to be able to carry out more attacks, for which ISIS could claim credit.

Snipes said that during surveillance, investigators saw Sayyed buy materials to make the explosive TATP, including acetone, sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and a cooler. These items were later found at Sayyed’s apartment, along with a computer, plywood and numerous throwing knives, a passport, Iranian money, and receipts from his purchases of bomb-making materials.

California Defendant Allegedly Planned to Conduct Attack, Flee to Mexico

A resident of Oakland, California, who was indicted on terrorism charges last week, allegedly planned to conduct a terrorist attack and flee to Mexico, according to court documents from an earlier detention hearing. Amer Alhaggagi, age 22, was indicted on July 21 on a charge of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS. From July through November 2016, he allegedly opened social media accounts to aid and promote ISIS, according to the indictment. He was arrested last November, on apparently unrelated identity theft charges.

News media reports quote documents from a detention hearing last December as saying Alhaggagi spent “significant lengths of time” in Yemen—with his family, according to his attorney—and was involved in planning “certain terrorist-related conduct” before he was arrested. According to court documents, federal agents believed Alhaggagi was a flight risk, and said that he made statements to undercover agents that he planned to escape to Mexico after conducting a terrorist attack.

Essex County: Accused Killer of Brendan Tevlin Ruled Fit to Stand Trial

A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled last week that Ali Muhammad Brown, the accused killer of 19-year-old Livingston resident Brendan Tevlin in West Orange in June 2014, is mentally competent to stand trial. (Photo shows Brown entering court for the hearing.) Judge Ronald Wexler ruled that Brown was faking mental illness when he was examined by state psychiatrists. Brown is now scheduled to stand trial on January 22, 2018.

Among other offenses, Brown was charged under New Jersey's state terrorism statute after he told investigators that he killed Tevlin and three men in Washington State as acts of revenge for US foreign policy in the Middle East. He has not yet been tried for any of the murders in Washington. He is currently being held at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, where he is serving a sentence for a robbery in West Orange. He is also charged with another robbery in Point Pleasant Beach.

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