Marcos Alonso Zea, also known as "Ali Zea," was charged in a 5 count indictment with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, attempting to provide material support to terrorists, attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as Ansar al-Sharia (AQAP/AAS), and obstruction and attempted obstruction of justice.
Authorities arrested Zea at his home in Brentwood on Long Island. He is an American citizen.
According to court documents, Zea conspired with others to travel overseas in order to wage violent jihad on the perceived enemies of Islam, which included the secular government in Yemen.
Investigators say Zea flew in January 2012 from John F. Kennedy Airport to London en route to Yemen in an attempt to join and fight alongside members of AQAP/AAS, which has claimed responsibility for 2 several terrorist attacks against the United States, including the attempted Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger plane. Zea was intercepted by customs officials in the United Kingdom in transit to Yemen and returned to the United States. Despite being prevented from traveling to Yemen, Zea continued his participation in the terrorist conspiracy, officials said.
Authorities say Zea encouraged and supported his alleged co-conspirator, Justin Kaliebe of Babylon and Bay Shore, who also was plotting to travel to Yemen to fight jihad. In August 2012, in a covertly recorded conversation between Zea and Kaliebe, Zea bragged about his lies to UK authorities when he was detained, instructed Kaliebe regarding methods to evade electronic surveillance by law enforcement authorities, and discussed Kaliebe's plans to fight jihad.
On January 21, 2013, Kaliebe attempted to travel from New York to Yemen for the purpose of joining AQAP/AAS, but he was arrested at JFK by members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the NYPD's Intelligence Division. Several days before Kaliebe attempted to travel to Yemen to join AQAQ/AAS, Zea gave Kaliebe money to support his trip. During this meeting, which was covertly recorded, Zea allegedly stated "I just hope, my story, my, the event that happened to me will help you guys move forward, inspire you."
Kaliebe subsequently pled guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and one count of attempting to provide material support to AQAP/AAS. Kaliebe is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2013, by United States District Judge Arthur D. Spatt in United States District Court in Central Islip.
In April 2013, after learning that he was under investigation, Zea directed an associate to erase the hard drive on Zea's home computer, and provided the associate two additional hard drives that Zea had used previously, which he also requested be destroyed. Despite Zea's efforts to thwart the investigation, investigators obtained the hard drives and conducted a forensic examination, which revealed an assortment of violent Islamic extremist materials. For example, the drives contained issues of Inspire magazine, an AQAP/AAS publication that promotes violent jihad, containing articles such as "Which is Better: Martyrdom or Victory?" "Why did I choose al Qaeda?" "What to Expect in Jihad?" and an interview with "Shaykh Abu Hurairah, The Military Commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." The electronic media also included a video, disseminated by the propaganda wing of al-Qaeda in Iraq, depicting the detonation of an explosive device on a vehicle carrying western military personnel. In addition, investigators recovered a semi-automatic rifle that Zea had given to an acquaintance shortly before he departed for Yemen. "Despite being born and raised in the United States, Zea allegedly betrayed his country and attempted to travel to Yemen in order to join a terrorist organization and commit murder," stated U.S. Attorney Lynch. "When that plan was thwarted, Zea continued to support terrorism by assisting his co-conspirator's efforts to travel to Yemen to fight violent jihad. When the defendant sensed investigators from the JTTF closing in, he engaged in a desperate effort to cover his tracks by attempting to destroy evidence - a tactic that only confirmed his violent aims."
"Aspirants with lethal intent who seek terror training abroad are of paramount concern. Fortunately, like Kaliebe before him, Zea was stopped due to the close cooperation between the NYPD and FBI," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly added.
Zea was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday before United States Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
Long Island Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence & Terrorism, issued a statement: "Zea, a resident of Brentwood, is the latest in a series of jihadist supporters from Long Island, including his co-conspirator Justin Kaliebe of Babylon. This arrest is a vivid reminder of the threat we continue to face from domestic Islamic terrorists."