Bronx couple cuffed for trying to join ISIS and plot terrorist attack on West Point

The OOCL Europe is docked at the Port of Newark in Newark, New Jersey
A ship at Port of Newark in Newark, New Jersey U.S. November 27, 2017. Picture taken November 27, 2017.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A Bronx man and his wife, from Alabama, are being held without bail for allegedly trying to join ISIS at the very end of March and plotting out an attack on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, federal prosecutors reported.

James Bradley, 20, of the Bronx and Arwa Muthana, 29, of Hoover, AL were both arrested while attempting to stowaway on a Middle East-bound cargo ship in Port Newark, NJ, which was actually a sting operation by police on March 31, according to authorities.

“James Bradley allegedly pledged devout allegiance to ISIS, expressing his desire to ‘fight among the rank[s] for the Islamic State,” said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York.

“Suspecting he may be unable to travel, Bradley instead allegedly discussed conducting terrorist attacks along with his wife, Arwa Muthana, also an ISIS supporter, against the US Military Academy at West Point or another area university where Bradley knew military recruits to be training,” Strauss added.

Court documents state that since 2019 Bradley had been expressing violent, extremist views and his own desire to support ISIS by traveling overseas to join the group or committing a terrorist attack in the United States.

In May of 2020, Bradley inadvertently told an undercover officer that he believed that ISIS may be good for Muslims because ISIS was establishing a “caliphate.”

Fearing he might have been placed on a terrorism watch list, it was around that time when Bradley conspired a possible attack on West Point.

The following month Bradley spoke to that same undercover operative, saying that his plan to attack a military base was “something he really wanted to do and that it would be his contribution to the cause of jihad,” federal documents allege.

If not West Point, Bradley considered attacking Reserve Officer Training Corps at another university in New York by using his own truck to take the cadets “out.”

Bradley and Muthana wed in January of this year, around the same time they had been strategizing their travel methods to the Middle East, where they planned to facilitate alleged desires of joining the Islamic State.

In early March of this year, Bradley traveled to Alabama so he could bring her back to New York and begin the process of their overseas travel from the New York area.

The undercover officer had then offered the couple assistance in boarding a cargo ship bound for either Asia or Africa and put them in touch with a second undercover unit who had donned the role of a trip facilitator.

Bradley met with the second undercover operative, expressed desire both fight and pledge an oath of allegiance for for ISIS, later paying the officer $1,000 in cash to cover travel costs for what they believed was a ship headed to Yemen.

On March 25, the undercover told Bradley that the ship would be leaving Port Newark the following Wednesday, that same officer joined them en route to the seaport where they heard Muthana confess she was traveling to join ISIS.

They were arrested while walking on a gangplank to board the ship, Muthana waived her Miranda rights and stated she “was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for Allah,” according to court documents.

The FBI also seized what appears to be a hand-drawn image of a jihadi flag commonly used by ISIS and a hand-drawn map of the Pakistan region inside a bedroom used by Bradley.

Both Bradley and Muthana are charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

They are also being brought up one count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, a crime that also carries a maximum 20-year sentence.