A New York man — who told an undercover officer of his intentions to launch a terrorist attack on the U.S. Military Academy and ROTC cadets — and an Alabama woman pleaded guilty Friday and Monday to attempting to travel to Yemen with the intention of joining the Islamic State.
James Bradley, 21, of the Bronx, and wife Arwa Muthana, 30, of Hoover, were indicted in the Southern District of New York in April 2021 for attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
The FBI has been aware of Bradley’s extremist sympathies since at least July 2019, according to the complaint against the couple.
In 2020, Bradley met up with an undercover officer multiple times and told him of his plans to commit a domestic act of terrorism — ideally at a military base, because he did not want to harm civilians. He told the officer that “he aspired to carry out an attack at West Point, and discussed potentially seeking to obtain a bomb or ammunition to carry out such an attack,” the complaint said.
He also discussed using a truck to attack a university campus in New York state where he often saw ROTC cadets. He planned, in his words, to “take these guys out.”
Bradley sent the undercover officer videos of violence perpetrated by terrorists and posted to Instagram photos of the ISIS flag and of Osama bin Laden, according to the complaint. At one point, in response to Bradley’s stated intention to travel to Pakistan, the undercover officer asked him what group he would join there. “ISIS, bro” was the reply.
Bradley — who, according to the complaint, already had at least one wife — conducted a marriage ceremony with Muthana in January 2021.
Bradley paid another undercover FBI agent $1,000 to secure him and Muthana passage on a cargo ship to Yemen so that he could join an ISIS chapter there. In March 2021, the agent dropped the couple off at a seaport in Newark, New Jersey, where they planned to board the ship. FBI agents arrested them as they walked up the gangplank.
After her arrest, Muthana told agents that she was willing to fight and kill Americans, according to the complaint.
Bradley and Muthana are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan federal court in February 2023. Each faces up to 20 years in prison, according to a Justice Department news release.
Lawyers for the couple did not respond to a request for comment.
Muthana’s younger sister, Hoda Muthana, has also made headlines for ties to ISIS, according to AL.com. In 2014, she used college tuition money to buy a plane ticket to the Middle East, where she became a wife to ISIS fighters. Hoda Muthana has since renounced ISIS and unsuccessfully tried to regain American citizenship.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.