A federal judge was unswayed by one-time ISIS supporter Alaa Saadeh’s statement that he now rejects the ideology of the terrorist organization and sentenced him Tuesday to the harshest punishment she could give him.
U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton sentenced Saadeh, formerly of West New York, to 15 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
“The public has to be protected,” she said.
Saadeh, 24, pleaded guilty to a count of material support of a terrorist group last year.
Saadeh, who had a long, black beard and shaved head, told Wigenton that he now realizes ISIS presents a corrupt vision of Islam.
“I don’t want anything to do with this group,” he said.
Standing shackled as he addressed the court, Saadeh admitted he was ignorant of the Muslim faith when he fell under the dream of joining the Islamic state. Now, he said, he realizes ISIS is “making things worse for Muslims.”
He apologized to his family, including his brother — who will be sentenced in the same courtroom later this year — and the government. Federal authorities, he said, were “absolutely right” that he should have done more to stop his younger brother, Nader, from getting swept up in fervor for ISIS.
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Image courtesy of Essex County Correctional Facility