A U.S. citizen who kept an Islamic State flag and a cache of weapons in his New York City apartment was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to the terrorist group, the Justice Department announced.
Sajmir Alimehmeti, 26, who lived in an apartment in the Bronx, was sentenced by US district judge Paul Englemayer, who listed the “terrifying” stash of weapons he amassed and called Alimehmeti a “ticking time bomb.”
Sajmir Alimehmeti, 26, was sentenced on Friday by US district judge Paul Englemayer
In February 2018, Alimehmeti admitted providing material support to the group.
His stash of weapons included a military-grade survival knife with a five-inch blade, three tactical knives with four-inch blades, two credit-card-sized folding knives, a commando wire pocket saw, a 24-inch pocket chainsaw, a rucksack designed for tactical combat, a tactical ski mask and handcuffs.
Judge Englemayer said it was impossible to conceive of a ‘benign reason’ for Alimehmeti to ‘stockpile weapons that would be used to restrain, gut, or decapitate a human body’, according to the New York Post.
Alimehmeti reportedly used coded language when referring to places he wanted to travel to ‘brush his teeth’.
Alimehmeti, a onetime plumbing assistant who had studied funeral services, was arrested in May 2016 on evidence assembled over eight months by two undercover New York City police officers and an undercover FBI employee posing as ISIS recruits.
Prosecutors also said that he claimed he watched ISIS beheading videos to keep himself motivated while exercising.
He allegedly initially tried to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS twice in 2014 but was stopped by British authorities both times. He is accused of being stopped at Manchester Airport in October 2014 when security found nunchucks and camouflage clothing in his luggage. And he is accused of trying to get to the Middle East again in December that year but was stopped by security at Heathrow Airport in London when they found images of ISIS fighters and improvised explosive devices on his cellphone.
UK authorities then informed the FBI who began an investigation into Alimehmeti.
“Even after his incarceration, Alimehmeti continued his supportive conduct for ISIS by working with convicted Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi, to distribute ISIS propaganda in prison,” Berman said.
Defense attorney Susan Kellman said Alimehmeti had struggled to fit in after moving to the US aged six from Albania.
She claimed he was radicalized as a teenager during a stint for robbery in the Fishkill Correctional Facility by Mohamed Mamdouh, one of the masterminds behind a foiled plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue in 2011.
In addition to 22 years in prison, Alimehmeti also was sentenced to five years supervised release, the DOJ said.