Ex-ISIS Recruiter Avoids 53-Year Sentence As Judge Says She Can’t Punish Him For ‘What He Might Have Done’
A former ISIS recruiter dodged a lengthy sentence from a judge who said she couldn’t slam him for the havoc he never got a chance to unleash.
Instead, Munther Omar Saleh was hit with an 18-year term Tuesday for pleading guilty to plotting schemes to fight in Syria or wage terror attacks in New York City — a fragment of the 53-year sentence Brooklyn federal prosecutors had sought.
The jihadi wannabe’s actions were “reprehensible,” “dangerous” and “could have been catastrophic,” Judge Margo Brodie said, adding, however: “I can’t sentence him for what he might have done.”
At the sentencing, Saleh choked up, apologizing to agents and thanking authorities for an arrest that ended his terror trajectory.
“I am ashamed to be so foolish,” Saleh said, adding he’d work to stop extremism. “I won’t want to see others fall in the hole I fell in.”
Meanwhile, harrowing new details were revealed from the men who captured Saleh and co-conspirators three years ago.
Port Authority Police Department Detective James Wyka testified how he tailed Saleh and another man in June 2015 as they left a mosque in Corona.
Wyka testified the pair, driving in a Jeep Cherokee, repeatedly tried to evade him — at one point pulling right on his bumper — until Saleh and driver Imran Rabbani stopped at a Whitestone Expressway overpass and got out.
“They just glared at me,” Wyka told Brodie. The pair quickly returned to their Jeep before sprinting back at Wyka seconds later.
The detective said he screeched into reverse, going the wrong way on the road around 4 a.m.
“They’re coming at me! Guys, where are you?” Wyka said he screamed into his police radio, before getting out of the car to confront the jihadis as they ran toward him.
That’s when an FBI agent arrived, gun drawn, screaming “FBI! Get down! Get down!”
The men, who’d been armed with knives, hit the ground and were cuffed.
“They were determined to force a confrontation. The whole manner of that evening was aggression,” Wyka told the judge.
FBI agent Kevin Coughlin also testified he’d made a last-minute decision to don his “SWAT vest” to help execute a search warrant at co-conspirator Fareed Mumuni’s Staten Island house.
Coughlin said when he saw a kitchen knife emerge from Mumuni’s loose clothing, he screamed “knife!” even as the blade struck his protective vest while Mumuni reached for another agent’s gun in the struggle.
Coughlin testified once subdued, Mumuni coolly asked what would happen next — “just this calculating. Like he had this plan.”
Coughlin marveled that in his 20 years of Marine Corps service and tours in Iraq, “it wasn’t until Staten Island, New York, that I almost got killed by a terrorist.”
Prosecutors charged that Saleh previously encouraged Mumuni to attack authorities. Mumuni is awaiting sentence. ___
This article is written by Andrew Keshner from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.