Review Category : National News

Three New York Men Arrested in Plot to Join ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three New York City men were arrested Wednesday on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS in Syria, while also trying to carry out attacks on the terror group’s behalf in the United States, the FBI said.

Federal officials said the men had planned to travel to the Middle East and had also spoken about attacking President Obama or planting a bomb in Coney Island, Brooklyn, authorities said.

Federal officials said Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, was arrested on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul.

Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, had a plane ticket to travel to Turkey sometime next month. He was arrested in Brooklyn, according to the feds.

Abror Habibov, 30, a third man, is accused of helping fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts, authorities said. He was arrested in Florida.

The arrests came as FBI Director James Comey spoke Wednesday about how ISIS, also known as ISIL, is recruiting members.

“ISIL in particular, is putting out a siren song through their slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate and if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.’ That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere,” he said.

Three Brooklyn Residents Charged with Attempt and Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL http://t.co/TNZPdmUpiB

— FBI (@FBI) February 25, 2015

In August 2014, Juraboev allegedly posted this message on an Uzbek-language site of ISIS: “I am in USA now. … But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels.”

A week later, the FBI met with Juraboev twice. He allegedly told them that he believes in ISIS’ terrorist agenda and that he would like to go to Syria to fight with ISIS “if Allah wills,” authorities said.

He also told them he would harm Obama if he could, based on president’s role in killing Muslims, his support for Israel and recent bombings of ISIS. Juraboev allegedly said he didn’t have an imminent plan to harm Obama, but that if anyone within ISIS told him to, he would, authorities said.

The FBI twice met with Juraboev, where he again professed his loyalty to ISIS and repeated his claims that he would kill the president should the terror group ask him to.

“ISIL calls on its followers to come fight for the terrorist organization in Syria, and in messages to followers outside Syria, ISIL has called on them to attack police, intelligence officers or the military in their home countries including the United States,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “By pledging allegiance to ISIL, these defendants conspired to fight for a designated foreign terrorist organization either in Syria, or even New York.”

The men have been charged with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars.

Saidakhmetov is a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and citizen of Kazakhstan. Juraboev and Habibov also live Brooklyn and are citizens of Uzbekistan.

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Three New York Men Arrested in Plot to Join ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three New York City men were arrested Wednesday on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS in Syria, while also trying to carry out attacks on the terror group’s behalf in the United States, the FBI said.

Federal officials said the men had planned to travel to the Middle East and had also spoken about attacking President Obama or planting a bomb in Coney Island, Brooklyn, authorities said.

Federal officials said Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, was arrested on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul.

Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, had a plane ticket to travel to Turkey sometime next month. He was arrested in Brooklyn, according to the feds.

Abror Habibov, 30, a third man, is accused of helping fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts, authorities said. He was arrested in Florida.

The arrests came as FBI Director James Comey spoke Wednesday about how ISIS, also known as ISIL, is recruiting members.

“ISIL in particular, is putting out a siren song through their slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate and if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.’ That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere,” he said.

Three Brooklyn Residents Charged with Attempt and Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL http://t.co/TNZPdmUpiB

— FBI (@FBI) February 25, 2015

In August 2014, Juraboev allegedly posted this message on an Uzbek-language site of ISIS: “I am in USA now. … But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels.”

A week later, the FBI met with Juraboev twice. He allegedly told them that he believes in ISIS’ terrorist agenda and that he would like to go to Syria to fight with ISIS “if Allah wills,” authorities said.

He also told them he would harm Obama if he could, based on president’s role in killing Muslims, his support for Israel and recent bombings of ISIS. Juraboev allegedly said he didn’t have an imminent plan to harm Obama, but that if anyone within ISIS told him to, he would, authorities said.

The FBI twice met with Juraboev, where he again professed his loyalty to ISIS and repeated his claims that he would kill the president should the terror group ask him to.

“ISIL calls on its followers to come fight for the terrorist organization in Syria, and in messages to followers outside Syria, ISIL has called on them to attack police, intelligence officers or the military in their home countries including the United States,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “By pledging allegiance to ISIL, these defendants conspired to fight for a designated foreign terrorist organization either in Syria, or even New York.”

The men have been charged with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars.

Saidakhmetov is a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and citizen of Kazakhstan. Juraboev and Habibov also live Brooklyn and are citizens of Uzbekistan.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Why Jurors Who Saw Movie Were Still Picked

Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros(DALLAS) — The prospect of jurors being biased in the “American Sniper” trial was a concern from the very beginning of the case because of the popularity of victim Chris Kyle’s memoir and ensuing blockbuster film about the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

Now, it has been revealed that several members of the jury saw the movie before being selected to serve on the trial, but they maintain that it did not interfere with their ability to fairly judge accused killer Eddie Ray Routh.

Routh was found guilty on Tuesday night of the capital murders of Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield and now faces life in prison.

At least two of the jurors told ABC News after Tuesday’s verdict that had seen the Academy Award-nominated film and informed the prosecution and defense of that prior to being picked.

About 800 people were summoned for jury selection with the expectation that only 400 to 500 would appear, officials said before the trial began. From there, they were interviewed by lawyers on both sides and had to fill out a questionnaire with 22 questions addressing their familiarity with Kyle’s story as well as other issues that would come up in the trial, like the military and mental illness.

Juror Barrett Hutchinson told ABC News today the questionnaire “specifically asked…could you put [your views on the film] to the wayside and make a fair and impartial judgment based on only the facts presented? And me personally, that’s one of the things I processed and told myself I could do.”

“I laid it out on the questionnaire, told them my thoughts on it and in the end, they picked me for a juror,” he said.

Fellow juror Stephanie Templeton said that the movie was “awesome” but didn’t have any direct connection to the case.

“It was basically a movie through the eyes of the sniper and his family, and it really didn’t have anything to do with Mr. Routh or the killings,” Templeton told ABC News. “I mean the screen went black and you saw the procession. It didn’t have any information about the capital murder case that we served on.”

Kyle was known for having the most confirmed kills in American military history during his four tours of duty in Iraq and that made him a public figure. But the fact that a jury was being asked to decide the fate of his killer just days after a Clint Eastwood-directed film about Kyle was up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards was “truly unprecedented,” according to jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius.

Dimitrius did not work on this case but has been involved with high-profile cases including that of O.J. Simpson. She said that in order for a defense team to select a juror who has prior knowledge about the individuals involved in a case, they must be comfortable that the jurors will be impartial.

“Whatever [the jurors] said during the voir dire did not rise to a level of concern based on what the defense attorneys were looking for,” she told ABC News.

The film itself makes a difference too, Dimitrius said, and since an actor portraying Routh is only shown briefly at the end of the film, with no further depiction of the murder or their interaction, that likely lessened the attorneys’ concern.

“Even though you have Hollywood portrayal in a movie, what happens in a court room is the jury’s reality,” she said.

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Investigation Closed on Ex-NFL Player’s Boating Accident, 16-Hour Swim

@AndySlater(PALM BEACH, Fla.) — Officials have closed an investigation into the boating accident that forced former National Football League player Robert Konrad to swim about 16 hours to shore.

An incident report released by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission details Konrad’s account given to law enforcement after he reached shore early on Jan. 8, including an estimate that his boat’s damages would cost $70,000.

The Bahamian government notified the U.S. Coast Guard that it found Konrad’s vessel in Grand Bahamas around Dead Man’s Reef on Jan. 9, according to the incident report.

Konrad, 38, who played for the Miami Dolphins from 1999 to 2004, told emergency responders that he’d fallen off his boat around 1 p.m. on Jan. 7 as it continued on autopilot toward the Bahamas.

Konrad told authorities he was taking his vessel from Boca Raton, Florida, to Riviera Beach in the Bahamas for “routine maintenance,” according to the report.

“Konrad decided he would recreational fish as he cruised to Riviera Beach,” the report said.

A police video shows Konrad as he sat huddled in a police car in Palm Beach, Florida, shivering under a blanket with the heat cranked all the way up in the early hours of Jan. 8.

Authorities met with Konrad and his attorney, William Rafferty, on Jan. 14 at Good Samaritan Hospital to record a witness statement. They met again on Jan. 29 at Mariner Marine in Riviera Beach to photograph the damage to the boat. A staff member at the business estimated the damage at $70,000.

The law enforcement report lists damage to his boat, including damaged windows, gear cases on both motors and the bottom gel coat and fiberglass.

Konrad later recounted his ordeal for the media, saying he “prayed to God” after falling from his 38-foot boat as he was trying to reel in a fish just as a large wave hit.

“I shouldn’t be here,” Konrad told reporters.

He described the frustration of seeing Coast Guard helicopters that didn’t spot him. He faced darkness, 10-foot waves and 25-mile-per-hour winds while his boat moved away on autopilot. Despite being bitten by jellyfish and seeing a shark circle him, he kept swimming.

Once he reached shore, he said it was “bittersweet” because he couldn’t walk.

“I had hypothermia and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t realize it was five in the morning,” he said.

Konrad and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

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NC District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren’t too happy.

The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its website:

“Gaston County Schools will use Saturday, February 28 as an inclement weather makeup day. Students will attend school on Saturday, February 28 for a half day to make up the day missed on Tuesday, February 24. School will begin at the regular time. Dismissal for elementary schools will be at 11:30 a.m. Dismissal for middle schools and high schools will be at 12:00 noon. Breakfast and lunch will be served on Saturday.”

Some parents are outraged, citing the four-day notice and inability to change weekend plans.

“Would you please tell me what the students who work on Saturdays and can not work on any other day because crammed enough with school weekdays. GOOD JOB GASTON COUNTY SCHOOLS,” wrote one commenter.

“This is absolutely ridiculous! What are those of us who have things we can’t get out of supposed to do? This was not well thought out. I guess we will have two unnecessary absences. Also, what about the teenagers who have weekend jobs?” wrote another.

According to the school district’s inclement weather policy on its website, “the Board of Education reserves the right to use early release days and Saturdays as make-up days.”

Some parents aren’t upset though, citing that they’d rather have the kids go to school on Saturday than have a day of the upcoming spring break.

One mom can’t wait for Saturday: “Lol well I’m not here to complain like some of yall!! I’m happy that they are using alternate days!! Woo hooo Saturday school means more mommy free time!!! Thanks GCS.”

A phone call to the Gaston County school district communications department was not immediately returned.

Other school districts around the country are figuring out ways to make up lost days without having students come in on the weekend.

One district — Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia — will add six minutes of instruction per day for its high school students to make up for the schools being closed from Feb. 17 through Feb. 20.

In Boston, which has been slammed by winter weather, public schools will use days previously designated as holidays to make up time. On March 17, Evacuation Day, school will be in session. Bunker Hill Day, June 17, may also be added to the school year.

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NC District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren’t too happy.

The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its website:

“Gaston County Schools will use Saturday, February 28 as an inclement weather makeup day. Students will attend school on Saturday, February 28 for a half day to make up the day missed on Tuesday, February 24. School will begin at the regular time. Dismissal for elementary schools will be at 11:30 a.m. Dismissal for middle schools and high schools will be at 12:00 noon. Breakfast and lunch will be served on Saturday.”

Some parents are outraged, citing the four-day notice and inability to change weekend plans.

“Would you please tell me what the students who work on Saturdays and can not work on any other day because crammed enough with school weekdays. GOOD JOB GASTON COUNTY SCHOOLS,” wrote one commenter.

“This is absolutely ridiculous! What are those of us who have things we can’t get out of supposed to do? This was not well thought out. I guess we will have two unnecessary absences. Also, what about the teenagers who have weekend jobs?” wrote another.

According to the school district’s inclement weather policy on its website, “the Board of Education reserves the right to use early release days and Saturdays as make-up days.”

Some parents aren’t upset though, citing that they’d rather have the kids go to school on Saturday than have a day of the upcoming spring break.

One mom can’t wait for Saturday: “Lol well I’m not here to complain like some of yall!! I’m happy that they are using alternate days!! Woo hooo Saturday school means more mommy free time!!! Thanks GCS.”

A phone call to the Gaston County school district communications department was not immediately returned.

Other school districts around the country are figuring out ways to make up lost days without having students come in on the weekend.

One district — Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia — will add six minutes of instruction per day for its high school students to make up for the schools being closed from Feb. 17 through Feb. 20.

In Boston, which has been slammed by winter weather, public schools will use days previously designated as holidays to make up time. On March 17, Evacuation Day, school will be in session. Bunker Hill Day, June 17, may also be added to the school year.

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Maraschino Cherry Tycoon: The Secret Drug Lair New York City Police Uncovered

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In a scene reminiscent of the show Breaking Bad, New York City investigators raided the business of one of the nation’s largest processors of maraschino cherries — only to find that his Brooklyn factory also served as a marijuana growing operation, authorities said.

Investigators returned to the factory Wednesday in the Red Hook section, a day after the owner shot and killed himself as authorities raided it.

There’s a good chance the cherry atop your sundae or at the bottom of your Manhattan is from Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, a family business founded in 1948 that now appears to have also hosted what sources described to ABC News as a large-scale, elaborate marijuana growing operation.

A team of city and state environmental regulators, along with prosecutors from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, had been at the company for several hours Tuesday investigating a complaint of illegal chemical dumping in the waters off Red Hook, prosecutors said.

At first owner Arthur Mondella, 57, cooperated with the search. Then, as investigators discovered “flimsy shelving and a faint smell of marijuana,” a source briefed on the investigation said, Mondella became vague.

It’s #NationalCherryMonth make sure to eat Dell’s Maraschino Cherries! pic.twitter.com/fxIBnJIX6j

— Dell’s Cherries (@DellsCherries) February 17, 2015

When a team member said, “Well we’re going to get a warrant to get behind this wall” that’s when Mondella “excused himself to his private bathroom where he apparently shot himself and died at a local hospital,” a statement from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said.

Prior to the gunshot, a source said Mondella yelled to his sister who had been standing outside the bathroom: “Take care of my kids.”

About 80 pounds of marijuana were recovered in three huge bags. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash was also found on the property, authorities said.

Several luxury cars were also recovered, including a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche and Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Mondella has a couple prior arrests, but they are sealed. A previous 2011 arrest for assaulting his second wife at their former Brighton Beach home had been dropped, authorities said.

Dell’s Maraschino Cherries had recently undergone a $5 million makeover of its Red Hook plant, which employs a dozen people.

The investigation into environmental crimes continues though it remains unclear whether anyone would now face charges.

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Four Wesleyan Students Arrested on Drug Charges Due in Court

Left to right: Rama Agha Al Kakib, 20, Andrew Olson, 20, Eric Lonergan, 21, and Zachary Kramer, 21. (Middletown Police)(MIDDLETOWN, Conn.) — Three of the four Wesleyan University students arrested on drug charges after a rash of overdoses are expected to be in court Wednesday.

The Middletown Police Department in Connecticut announced that Eric Lonergan, 21, Andrew Olson, 20, Zachary Kramer, 21, and Rama Agha Al Kakib, 20, were arrested on various drug charges on Tuesday, and four search and seizure warrants were executed around campus in an effort to obtain unspecified evidence. The four face various drug possession charges, and Olson is charged with sale of hallucinogen.

The arrest announcement comes days after 11 people were hospitalized because of suspected overdoses related to the drug MDMA, also known as “Molly.”

Lonergan, Kramer and Agha Al Nakib, were due in Middletown Superior Court Wednesday for their arraignment hearings, according to Middletown Police. Olson is expected to appear in court next month.

The court clerk for Middletown Superior Court said the four had not yet entered pleas or filed paperwork identifying their lawyers.

All four students have been suspended by Wesleyan pending a formal hearing.

Middletown Police Chief William McKenna told reporters Tuesday that the doses that caused the hospitalizations likely “had a mixture of designer drug chemicals.”

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement the university takes drug use seriously and is cooperating with authorities.

“We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible,” Roth said.

Lonergan faces charges of possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegal obtaining or supplying of drugs, police said. Olson faces a charge of sale of a hallucinogen, two counts of possession of hallucinogen and marijuana possession charges. Kramer faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of marijuana less than 1/2 ounce. Al Kakib faces three counts of possession of a controlled substance, as well as possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

MDMA, known as Molly or ecstasy depending on what form it’s taken in, has been causing an increase in emergency room visits, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

ER visits related to complications from taking MDMA increased from 11,287 in 2005 to 22,498 in 2011, according to the agency’s 2013 report.

Most batches of Molly are actually synthetic drugs that are an atom or two off from pure MDMA, Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Joseph Moses told ABC News. The result can be batches that are even more dangerous than pure MDMA.

“Kids are being used as guinea pigs,” he said in an earlier interview. “The manufacturer didn’t go through clinical trials, the person who orders and repackages it doesn’t know what it’s gonna do to somebody, and the user didn’t know what it was going to do to them.”

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Four Wesleyan Students Arrested on Drug Charges Due in Court

Left to right: Rama Agha Al Kakib, 20, Andrew Olson, 20, Eric Lonergan, 21, and Zachary Kramer, 21. (Middletown Police)(MIDDLETOWN, Conn.) — Three of the four Wesleyan University students arrested on drug charges after a rash of overdoses are expected to be in court Wednesday.

The Middletown Police Department in Connecticut announced that Eric Lonergan, 21, Andrew Olson, 20, Zachary Kramer, 21, and Rama Agha Al Kakib, 20, were arrested on various drug charges on Tuesday, and four search and seizure warrants were executed around campus in an effort to obtain unspecified evidence. The four face various drug possession charges, and Olson is charged with sale of hallucinogen.

The arrest announcement comes days after 11 people were hospitalized because of suspected overdoses related to the drug MDMA, also known as “Molly.”

Lonergan, Kramer and Agha Al Nakib, were due in Middletown Superior Court Wednesday for their arraignment hearings, according to Middletown Police. Olson is expected to appear in court next month.

The court clerk for Middletown Superior Court said the four had not yet entered pleas or filed paperwork identifying their lawyers.

All four students have been suspended by Wesleyan pending a formal hearing.

Middletown Police Chief William McKenna told reporters Tuesday that the doses that caused the hospitalizations likely “had a mixture of designer drug chemicals.”

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement the university takes drug use seriously and is cooperating with authorities.

“We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible,” Roth said.

Lonergan faces charges of possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegal obtaining or supplying of drugs, police said. Olson faces a charge of sale of a hallucinogen, two counts of possession of hallucinogen and marijuana possession charges. Kramer faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of marijuana less than 1/2 ounce. Al Kakib faces three counts of possession of a controlled substance, as well as possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

MDMA, known as Molly or ecstasy depending on what form it’s taken in, has been causing an increase in emergency room visits, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

ER visits related to complications from taking MDMA increased from 11,287 in 2005 to 22,498 in 2011, according to the agency’s 2013 report.

Most batches of Molly are actually synthetic drugs that are an atom or two off from pure MDMA, Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Joseph Moses told ABC News. The result can be batches that are even more dangerous than pure MDMA.

“Kids are being used as guinea pigs,” he said in an earlier interview. “The manufacturer didn’t go through clinical trials, the person who orders and repackages it doesn’t know what it’s gonna do to somebody, and the user didn’t know what it was going to do to them.”

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Four Wesleyan Students Arrested in MDMA Overdoses

fotokon/iStock/Thinkstock(MIDDLETOWN, Conn.) — Four Wesleyan University students have been arrested in connection with a rash of MDMA overdoses at the Connecticut school that sent 11 people to the hospital, two in critical condition.

The four were taken into custody Tuesday evening, according to the Middletown Police Department.

All of the people who were hospitalized are believed to have taken MDMA, otherwise known as “Molly,” but the batch they took most likely “had a mixture of designer drug chemicals,” Middletown Police Chief William McKenna said Tuesday night.

The four students were all being held pending bail hearings, and their first court dates are scheduled for March 3, McKenna said.

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