Alabama woman headed to prison for trying to help foreign terrorists

Published 4:21 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

An Alabama woman will spend the next 11 years in federal prison for trying to support foreign terrorist groups.

James Bradley, aka Abdullah, 21, of the Bronx, New York, and Arwa Muthana, 30, of Hoover, Alabama, were sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release and nine years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, respectively, for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

In September 2022, Bradley and Muthana pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.

According to court documents, Bradley and Muthana are ISIS supporters who sought to travel to the Middle East to join and fight for ISIS.

Bradley expressed violent extremist views since at least 2019, including his desire to support ISIS by traveling overseas to join the group or committing a terrorist attack in the United States.

In May 2020, Bradley stated to an undercover law enforcement officer (UC-1) a belief that ISIS may be good for Muslims because ISIS was establishing a caliphate.

Bradley also expressed his desire to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States and discussed potentially attacking the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Bradley explained that if he could not leave the United States, he would do “something” in the United States instead, referring to carrying out an attack.

In June 2020, Bradley reaffirmed his interest to UC-1 in attacking a military base and that doing so would be his contribution to the cause of jihad. In January 2021, Bradley mentioned to UC-1 another university in New York State where he frequently saw Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets training. Bradley stated that he could use his truck in an attack along with Muthana, take “out” all of the ROTC cadets.

In late January 2021, Bradley married Muthana in an Islamic marriage ceremony.

Beginning before and continuing after their marriage, Bradley and Muthana discussed, planned, and ultimately attempted to travel to the Middle East together to join ISIS.

In or about early March 2021, Bradley traveled from New York to Alabama to visit Muthana. They returned to New York together to travel from New York to join ISIS in the Middle East.

Thereafter, Bradley raised the possibility of UC-1 helping the couple board a cargo ship to travel to the Middle East or Africa. UC-1 subsequently put Bradley in contact with a purported associate who could assist in making travel arrangements via cargo ship. In reality, the purported facilitator was a law enforcement officer acting in an undercover capacity (UC-2).

Later in March 2021, Bradley met with UC-2 and expressed his desire to travel via cargo ship and to “fight among the rank[s] of the Islamic State.” Bradley subsequently provided UC-2 $1,000 in cash as travel costs. Bradley told UC-2 that he and Muthana both planned to be “fighting” after arriving in the Middle East. Bradley also told UC-2 that he had a dream that he had given “bay’ah,” an Arabic term meaning the oath of allegiance, to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the former leader of ISIS.

On March 25, 2021, UC-2 told Bradley that the cargo ship would be leaving on March 31 from a seaport in Newark, New Jersey. Bradley praised Allah and confirmed he and Muthana planned to travel on the ship. On March 31, 2021, Bradley and Muthana met with UC-2 en route to the seaport.

During this meeting, Muthana confirmed to UC-2 that she was traveling to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. Bradley and Muthana were arrested as they walked on a gangplank to board the cargo ship.

After Muthana was arrested, she waived her Miranda rights and stated during an interview that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah. Also on March 31, 2021, in connection with court-authorized searches, the FBI seized from a bedroom previously used by Bradley a hand-drawn image of a jihadi flag commonly used by ISIS and a hand-drawn map of the Pakistan region. The FBI also recovered a machete from a truck used by Bradley.

In the months and years prior to their arrests, Bradley and Muthana also accessed, posted, and distributed extremist online content, including materials indicative of their support for ISIS. Such material included Bradley’s postings of images of ISIS fighters, Usama Bin Laden, and terrorist attacks.

Bradley also distributed to UC-1 videos of ISIS fighters, a 2020 stabbing attack against a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, and extremists shooting a uniformed soldier. Content on Muthana’s cellphone, which was searched pursuant to a court-authorized search warrant, included images of an ISIS flag with Arabic writing, ISIS propaganda, firearms, quotations of the deceased former al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula member Anwar al-Awlaki, and a video showing an individual in prisoner garb being chained and then burned alive.