American ISIS Supporter Gets 22 Years in Prison

Sue Byamba
By Sue Byamba
December 10, 2019US News
American ISIS Supporter Gets 22 Years in Prison
ISIS flag during an operation in the desert of Samarra aimed at retaking areas from ISIS jihadis, in a file photo. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Sajmir Alimehmeti, a 26-year-old Albanian turned U.S. citizen who kept an Islamic State flag and various weapons in his New York City apartment, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to ISIS on Dec. 6.

“You are a ticking time bomb,” U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer told Alimehmeti before imposing the sentence, calling Alimehmeti’s conduct “terrifying.”

Alimehmeti’s weapons collection at his apartment included a military-grade survival knife, combat knives, folding knives, a pocket chainsaw, a wire pocket saw, a rucksack designed for tactical combat, masks, and handcuffs.

The judge said it was impossible for Alimehmeti to stock these weapons “that would be used to restrain, gut, or decapitate a human body,” for a “benign reason, ” according to the NY Post.

“This is a weapon the defendant intended to use to perpetrate decapitation,” prosecutor Emil Bove said about the chainsaw, which she described as having two hooks and handgrips on each side.

While stockpiling weapons at his apartment, Alimehmeti also told undercover agents he binge-watched ISIS propaganda. He liked to watch beheading videos to keep himself motivated during his working out, prosecutors said.

In 2014, Alimehmeti attempted to enter the United Kingdom twice but was denied entry after British authorities found camouflage clothing and nunchucks in his luggage, as well as images of ISIS flags on his cellphone and other ISIS-related pictures on his computer.

Despite denials, he continued to assist the terrorist group remotely and even attempted to assist a person he thought was an ISIS supporter, when in fact he was an undercover law enforcement employee.

“Sajmir Alimehmeti betrayed the country he called home by trying to travel overseas to join ISIS, a brutal terrorist group at war with the United States. When that failed, Alimehmeti deliberately assisted another individual he believed was traveling to join ISIS. At the same time, the investigation revealed he was acquiring tactical knives, handcuffs, and equipment indicative of efforts to prepare for an attack here in New York City,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

In 2015, Alimehmeti applied for a new passport claiming his had been lost—however, he told a different story to an undercover agent, admitting that it wasn’t lost and that he needed a new passport to rid the rejection stamps on his older one.

In 2016, Alimehmeti planned to distribute terrorist propaganda to prisoners with the help of “Chelsea bomber” Ahmad Rahimi, whom he befriended in prison.

According to the NY Post, Alimehmeti’s lawyer Susan Kellman said that he was lured by ISIS at a vulnerable time. She claimed that he was “young, confused, alienated, isolated, and looking for a place.”

Kellman said that when he moved from Albania to the United States at the age of 6, he struggled to fit in and he was “radicalized as a teenager during a stint for robbery in the Fishkill Correctional Facility,” according to the outlet.

Alimehmeti declined to speak on Friday but reportedly walked out with a smile.

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