FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The FBI has arrested a man with connections to ISIS who also spent time in Fort Wayne.
Ali Saleh, 23, is originally from Queens, New York, but told authorities he spent about seven months living in Fort Wayne with two co-workers.
More than a dozen pages of court documents show Saleh’s travel history and tweets from August 2014 to August 2015. It includes five different attempts to travel to the Middle East and four different Twitter accounts used to praise ISIS.
His Twitter accounts are currently suspended.
After a handful of interviews including two in Fort Wayne, authorities arrested Saleh in New York in September 2015.READ | Full copy of the Ali Saleh probable cause affidavit.Saleh’s Twitter Accounts & Tweets
Court documents show Saleh mostly retweeted other users. He operated under four different handles, listed as A-D in the court documents:
Using the Twitter handle @alisaleh1292, Saleh retweeted “I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing” on August 25, 2014. This was just a few days before he booked his first travel attempt to the Middle East.
On June 10, 2015, Saleh started using the Twitter handle @Hijra_s. He tweeted “If I die before hijra my final will and testament is to be buried in sham inshallah khilafah will have spread by then.” Court documents further explain that an Arabic linguist translated the message to mean “in the event that he dies before making the journey to join ISIL, his final wish would be to be buried in Syria and he is hopeful that the caliphate will have expanded by that time.”
The same day, Saleh retweeted “Promises of Allah of things to come: Defeat of occupying Jews”; Conquest of Rome”; “Conquest of the White House”; “Domination of the world by Islam.”
On June 17, 2015, Saleh retweeted “IS is winning battle of hearts and minds. People have started to realize that war is a necessity.”
On July 24, 2015, Saleh sent a Twitter message to another user associated with ISIS or ISIL. That profile told followers to contact him for advice on how to join ISIS or ISIL from Libya. Egypt and Libya border each other. The messaging happened the same day Saleh tried to book a flight to Egypt from JFK International Airport.Saleh’s Travel Attempts
Saleh booked his first trip on August 28, 2014. He tried to travel on Ukraine Airlines from JFK International Airport in New York to Kiev, Ukraine to Istanbul, Turkey, with the flight scheduled for September 12, 2014. In the affidavit, the FBI listed Turkey as a common transit point to get into Syria. Saleh canceled the trip after his parents took his passport away.
Almost a year later, Saleh tried again, this time trying to book flights from multiple airports to Cairo, Egypt. The first attempt came on July 24, 2015 when Saleh tried to book a flight on Qatar Airlines. He wanted to fly from JFK to Doha, Qatar to Cairo, Egypt. In the affidavit, the FBI listed Egypt as a common transit point to travel to other Middle Eastern locations. Saleh was interviewed by Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agents. He told them he’d lived in Fort Wayne for six to seven months and wanted to travel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen for vacation. Saleh didn’t board the flight and left the airport after the interview.
Later that night on July 24, 2015, Saleh went to Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. He asked the airlines about flights to Cairo, but didn’t book one. He left the airport early the next morning.
Later that afternoon, on July 25, 2015, Saleh took a train from Newark Penn Station to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The next morning, he went to Philadelphia International Airport. He was turned away at the ticket counter, and law enforcement agents again interviewed him. Saleh told them he wanted to go to Egypt for tourism purposes, Saudi Arabia for hajj, and Yemen to spend time with family. He also told officers “he was tired of America and had decided that it was time to leave.”
Saleh later traveled to Fort Wayne where law enforcement agents interviewed him at a local hotel on July 29, 2015. He again told them he’d lived in Fort Wayne for six to seven months with two co-workers. The court documents don’t reveal the locations where the interview happened or where Saleh lived or worked. Saleh told agents he went to Yemen in 2013 to try to join a militia training camp. He wanted to train so he could “protect the Sunni people around the city of Yafa, Yemen.” He also said he knew there were “al-Qaeda elements” in the area, but that he didn’t agree with them and wouldn’t consider joining terrorist organizations. Saleh also denied having any Twitter accounts. Law enforcement agents interviewed Saleh again the next morning. He told them he would “continue attempting to go to Yemen until he was arrested.”
Several days later, on August 2, 2015, Saleh traveled to Cleveland, Ohio. Law enforcement agents again interviewed him. Saleh told them he wanted to take a train to Toronto, Canada and then fly to Yemen. Agents showed him his tweets and he admitted he was the user behind them. He told agents “while he had previously attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIL, he no longer wanted to travel to Syria because he did not think he would reach it due to all the scrutiny given by other countries to people attempting to travel to Syria.”
After that last interview, Saleh changed his train ticket to travel from Cleveland to Toronto to Cleveland to New York City. He also started using the Twitter handle @_abu_nuh2 and retweeted “Come and join the Caliphate.”
NewsChannel 15 reached out to the FBI and Saleh’s attorneys. They couldn’t comment on the case. Saleh is currently being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.