- Court documents reveal plans for twin attacks in New York.
Instructed to make pressure-cooker bombs inspired by Boston Marathon attack.
Saleh faces up to 53 years when sentenced in May.
By Ewan Palmer
Terrorists plotted to blow up the Statue of Liberty after taking instructions from a British hacker who fled to Syria to become a top recruiter for Isis.
New York residents Munther Omar Saleh and Fareed Mumuni are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a string of terror offences including conspiring to support Isis.
The pair admitted the offences in February 2017 but new details have emerged about how they plotted to use pressure-cooker bombs to attack the city.
In court documents, reported by ABC, Saleh was found to have discussed blowing up the iconic statue by exploiting a weak point in its back. The terrorists believed an explosion would topple Liberty on to the crowds of tourists below.
Saleh also discussed a simultaneous bombing in Times Square using explosives similar to those detonated in the 2015 Boston Marathon attack .
In May 2015, Saleh received instructions on how to make a pressure-cooker bomb from British Isis recruiter and hacker Junaid Hussain.
Hussain, who was jailed for posting former prime minister Tony Blair’s personal details on the internet, fled to Syria in 2013 and was later linked to global terrorist plots and attacks. He was killed in a US drone strike in Syria in August 2015.
According to the court documents, Saleh wrote in his notes: “I was considering that the Statue of Liberty has a very weak point in its lower back and it’s tilting forward. If I can get a few pressure cooker bombs to hit the weak point, I think it will fall face down, along with the mushrikeen [non-Muslims] visiting it.
“Or we can hit Times Square which would be easier, but if I can get more akhs [brothers], we can perform simultaneous attacks all around NYC.”
A search of Saleh’s phone and internet records revealed evidence of his support for Isis.
They included an article entitled ’39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad’ along with online issues of the Isis propaganda publication, Dabiq magazine.
He also had an image of his own face photoshopped on to the body of an Isis fighter with a headless Statue of Liberty holding the Isis flag and New York burning in the background and the words “COMING SOON” as well as an image of the World Trade Center burning during the September 11 attacks.
YouTube searches on Saleh’s phone reflected his knowledge that he was being followed by law enforcement in the run-up to his arrest. He was found to have searched for the terms “being followed by black car,” “being followed by cops,” and “cops following me”.
Saleh was arrested in Queens after charging at a federal officer who had him under observation.
During Mumuni’s arrest in June 2017, he repeatedly stabbed an FBI agent with a kitchen knife.
The pair are due to be sentenced on 16 May. Saleh faces up to 53 years in prison, while Mumuni could be jailed for up to 85 years.