The Associated Press reports that the two men stand accused of conspiring to maim, kill, and kidnap persons outside the United States by attempting to join Somali militant group Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked militia that was designated a terrorist group by the United States in 2008. The group controls large swaths of Somalia, which has been without a central government since 1991. It is believed to be involved in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Police emphasized to the Star-Ledger that the arrests do not reflect an immediate threat to the United States, although The New York Times reports that last November Mr. Alessa told an undercover cop that if they could not wage jihad in Somalia then they would bring the fight home.
Last Nov. 29, for example, the complaint said that Mr. Alessa told Mr. Almonte and the undercover officer: “They only fear you when you have a gun and when you — when you start killing them, and when you — when you take their head, and you go like this, and you behead it on camera.” He added: “We’ll start doing killing here, if I can’t do it over there.” Mr. Alessa used the Arabic words for gun and killing, according to the complaint.