Two alleged ter-ror recruits ar-rested at JFK

Two
US men were arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport, police said
Sunday, declining to confirm a newspaper report that they were headed to
Somalia to join an Al-Qaeda group.

“Two
arrests were made Saturday night at JFK airport as part of an ongoing
investigation,” deputy police commissioner Paul Browne said, without providing
details.

The
Newark Star Ledger, a daily in the New Jersey suburbs, reported the suspects
were about to board planes to Egypt with plans to travel to Somalia to join
with an extremist group there.

The
Ledger said the New Jersey men, Mohamed Hamoud Alessa 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte,
26, are both US citizens and quoted neighbors as saying they went to school in
the United States.

“As
of this moment I am only able to confirm that two arrests took place last
night,” an FBI spokeswoman told AFP.

“Please
understand due to the sensitivity of this matter this is the only information
we are able to release at this time,” she added, saying a statement may be
released later in the day.

Mary
Laboeria, who lives three houses down from the Almonte residence, said she was
surprised by the alleged ties to terrorism.

“I’m
shocked. He graduated in our school system,” she told the paper. “It
really hurts. We don’t need it.”

Around
the time of their arrest, both men’s homes were searched by the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and the federal agents carted away boxes of evidence.

Authorities
told the paper the suspects had been under surveillance for some time and their
circle of friends had been infiltrated by a New York City police officer who
saw them prepare to travel overseas.

The
men were not, however, planning an attack in the United States, authorities
said.

A
Justice Department spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael told the paper: “The
arrests do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active
plot against the United States.”

The
two instead planned to fight with a Somalia-based Islamist terror group called
Al-Shabaab, an organization of several thousand fighters with ties to Al-Qaeda.