NEW YORK (AP) — A husband-wife militant duo will spend about a decade in prison after each of them pleaded guilty to trying to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say the man told a law enforcement officer posing as a terrorism sympathizer that he wanted to carry out a terror attack in the United States. Potential targets included the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or against a university in New York State where he frequently saw Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC cadets training.
James Bradley, 21, of the Bronx was sentenced to 11 years in prison Thursday in a federal court in Manhattan. His wife, Arwa Muthana, 30, of Hoover, Alabama, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison during proceedings before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.
The sentencings came after they pleaded guilty in September, admitting that they were Islamic State group supporters who tried to go to the Middle East to fight for the organization. They were married in an Islamic marriage ceremony in January 2021, authorities said.
The couple was arrested on March 31, 2021, on the gangplank at Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey and held without bail. At the time, authorities said they were planning to board a cargo ship that an undercover law enforcement officer told them would go to Yemen.
Bradley sought transit to the Middle East by cargo ship because he feared he might have been on a terrorist watch list, prosecutors said.
Authorities said that prior to their arrest, the couple distributed extremist online content, including images of IS fighters, Osama bin Laden and terrorist attacks.
After Muthana was arrested, she told investigators that she was willing to fight and kill Americans if it was for God, prosecutors said.
Her lawyers had asked Engelmayer to sentence her to time served, saying she was a woman with “no passport, little money and no real plan.” They said her actions were the result of an “abused and traumatized young woman who was trying to get as far away from home as possible.”
Bradley’s lawyers also sought a sentence of time served.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence each of them to at least 15 years in prison, saying it was necessary “to deter and prevent the defendants from resuming their activities in support of radical Islamic terrorist ideology, and to deter others who, like the defendants, seek to join and serve brutal terrorist organizations.”
The U.S. Probation Office had recommended that each serve six years in prison. The office cited Bradley’s age, his family support and his engagement in deradicalization counseling.