U.S. judge gives lawyers for N.J. men accused in terror plot more time to finalize plea deal.

Halkaan ka akhri

BERGEN COUNTY The two would-be Jersey Jihadists arrested in June on charges of trying to link up with a virulent terrorist group in Somalia are looking to make a plea deal, according to court documents.

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 24, are accused of planning to join al Shabaab, a militant Islamic organization controlling much of southern Somalia, with the aim of killing American troops.

Both men have been held without bail since trying to board separate flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for Egypt.

There has been little disclosed about the case since it came to light after a four-year investigation sparked by a tip the FBI received on its website in October 2006.

But in a continuance order filed in U.S. District Court late today, federal Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark revealed for the first time plea negotiations are under way.

“Both the United States and the defendants desire additional time to negotiate a plea agreement, which would render any grand jury proceedings and any subsequent trial of this matter unnecessary,” Cox Arleo said in her order.

Plea negotiations, which do not always result in an agreement, are seldom disclosed by any of the parties involved. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney declined comment and attorneys for the two men could not be reached.

Neither suspect had any contact with Somali terrorist groups, authorities have said, despite making an earlier trip to Jordan before they were arrested. Alessa, who holds dual U.S.-Jordanian citizenship, lived in North Bergen, and has had a troubled past. Almonte, of Elmwood Park, was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised a Roman Catholic. He converted to Islam several years ago.

Authorities said that in the months leading up to their planned travel, the two men saved thousands of dollars, conducted training at paintball fields and acquired gear and apparel to be used once they made their way to Somalia.

Last month, Mohamed Osman, 19, of Bayonne, who knew both men, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents investigating the pair. He admitted in court he knew about their plans and had heard Alessa say he would start killing in the United States if he was unable to do it abroad. Osman faces eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.



Source: New Jersey Real-Time News


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