An American married couple who attempted to abscond to the Middle East, join ISIS, and kill their fellow Americans has now pled guilty and will remain in federal prison for a long time to come.
According to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, James “Abdullah” Bradley, 21, and his wife Arwa Muthana, 30, have both pled guilty “to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (‘ISIS’).”
The statement claims that Bradley began discussing his support for ISIS and his desire to kill Americans, particularly members of the military, as far back as May 2020. At that time, he told an undercover investigator that he believed that ISIS should establish a caliphate. He also offered to kill or otherwise harm cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and other members of ROTC at a university in New York, pledging to utilize his truck in these attacks to take “out” as many of them as possible.
About 10 months later in March 2021, the first undercover officer put Bradley in touch with a second undercover officer who promised to help Bradley and Muthana, whom Bradley had married in an Islamic ceremony in January of that year, find passage on a cargo ship to either Asia or Africa and from there, travel to the Middle East so that they could join ISIS.
Both Bradley and Muthana were apprehended on the gangplank of a cargo ship in Newark, New Jersey, on March 31, 2021. Afterwards, Muthana immediately waived her Miranda rights and confessed that she wanted to fight and kill on behalf of Allah. Muthana’s sister, Hoda Muthana, likewise left America in 2014 to join ISIS, but has since petitioned the federal government to let her return to America.
After the couple was arrested, law enforcement conducted various searches of their rooms and belongings, where police discovered various materials confirming the couple’s support for ISIS and jihad. They found images of jihadi fighters, ISIS flags, quotations from late al Qaeda Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, and videos of Osama bin Laden, among other items.
Bradley and Muthana are both currently housed at MDC Brooklyn and will be sentenced some time in February. They each face up to 20 years in prison.
While Bradley is originally from the Bronx, Muthana is from Hoover, Alabama. When and how the two met remains unclear. Though Bradley’s birthday has not been publicly disclosed, he was either 19 or 20 years old on his wedding day.
The SDNY announcement was released on September 12, just one day after the 21st anniversary of 9/11.