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Newlywed couple 'tried to board a cargo ship from New Jersey to Yemen so they could fight for ISIS' 7 years after the wife's sister traveled to Syria to become a Jihadi bride

 A newlywed husband and wife allegedly intent on fighting for the Islamic State group were arrested Thursday at a port as they attempted to board a cargo ship that an undercover law enforcement officer said would take them to Yemen, prosecutors said.

James Bradley, 20, and Arwa Muthana, 29, were taken into custody on the gangplank at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey, prosecutors said.

They were charged in federal court in Manhattan with both attempting and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Each count comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, meaning both individuals are facing up to 40 years in jail.

Muthana is the older sister of Hoda Muthana, who left her family so she could join ISIS back in 2014.

Bradley and Muthana made an initial court appearance Thursday and were ordered jailed without bail. Messages seeking comment were left with their lawyers.

Muthana and Bradley were married in January in an Islamic ceremony.

'As alleged, the defendants planned to travel overseas to join and support ISIS,' Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said in a release.

Bradley and his wife, Arwa Muthana, were arrested at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey, according to prosecutors

Bradley and his wife, Arwa Muthana, were arrested at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey, according to prosecutors

'The threat of terrorism at home and abroad remains, and the National Security Division is committed to holding accountable those who would provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations.' 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement that the couple's 'plans to wage attacks against the United States have been thwarted.'


Bradley, of the Bronx, spent more than a year expressing support for IS and speaking of his desire to join the group overseas or commit a terrorist attack in the U.S., prosecutors said. 

He also went by the name 'Abdullah' and sought transit to the Middle East by cargo ship because he feared he might have been on a terrorist watch list, prosecutors said.

Bradley had previously spoken to an undercover officer in May 2020 about potentially attacking the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, prosecutors said. 

He also had what appeared to be a hand-drawn image of what prosecutors said was a jihadi flag in his bedroom.

In June 2020, Bradley allegedly told an undercover officer that he wanted to attack a military base.

Bradley's Instagram appeared to have a post of someone in a desert with what appears to be an ISIS flag

Bradley's Instagram appeared to have a post of someone in a desert with what appears to be an ISIS flag

Pictured: More social media posts prosecutors allege came from Bradley's pages

Pictured: More social media posts prosecutors allege came from Bradley's pages

Then, in January 2021, he allegedly told an undercover officer that he could use his truck to attack Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets in training at a university in New York.

Arwa Muthana, of Alabama, has also expressed support for IS and discussed with Bradley plans to travel together to the Middle East to fight on behalf of the group, prosecutors said.  

After traveling to Alabama to visit Muthana around early March 2021 (and then back to New York), prosecutors said Bradley approached the undercover officer with the idea of traveling on a cargo ship to join IS. 

The officer connected Bradley with a 'facilitator' - another undercover officer - and Bradley paid that person $1,000 in cash for travel costs, prosecutors said.

Bradley told that officer that he and Muthana planned to be 'fighting' upon arrival in Yemen and that he'd had a dream that he had given an oath of allegiance to IS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi prosecutors said.

He also said that he planned to throw his identification and passport 'in the water' during the trip so that if he were to get arrested the authorities wouldn't know who he was, prosecutors said.

An undercover officer told Bradley about a departing cargo ship on March 25, which was set to sail on March 31.

On their way to the seaport, Bradley and Muthana allegedly met again with an undercover officer and Muthana confirmed the purpose of their travel plans, leading to the dual arrests.

After her arrest, Muthana waived her right to remain silent and said that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah, prosecutors said.

Arwa Muthana's younger sister Hoda, now 26 years old, left her family in November 2014 to join ISIS.

Hoda Muthana (pictured) is the younger sister of Arwa Muthana, who was arrested this week. Hoda ran away from her family to join ISIS in 2014, but has since expressed regret

Hoda Muthana (pictured) is the younger sister of Arwa Muthana, who was arrested this week. Hoda ran away from her family to join ISIS in 2014, but has since expressed regret

According to AL.com, Hoda tricked her family into allowing her to go on a school trip to Atlanta in November 2014, only to hop on a plane to Turkey with Syria as her end destination.

Hoda then married Suhan Abdul Rahman before the jihadist died fighting, leading Hoda to two more marriages and the birth of a son, Adam.

She later expressed regret about joining ISIS, however, and stated a desire to return to the United States.

'Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were,' she said to NBC News from a refugee camp in 2019.

A federal judge ruled later in 2019 that Hoda was no longer a U.S. citizen and could not return to the country.

At the time, President Donald Trump also tweeted that he did not want Hoda allowed back into the country.

Hoda and Arwa are daughters of a Yemeni diplomat who became a naturalized citizen while on assignment in the United States. 

Two sisters who joined ISIS caught trying to return to Europe
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A U.S.-led coalition captured the last of the territory held by the Islamic State group about two years ago, ending its self-declared caliphate that covered large parts of Iraq and Syria. 

Since then, remaining IS militants have gone underground in the Syrian-Iraqi border region, continuing an insurgency.

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