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New York man arrested on terrorism charges

By Julia Lull, CNN
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Marcos Alonso Zea, known as "Ali Zea," is arrested at his Brentwood home
  • He's accused of murder conspiracy, trying to support terrorists, obstruction of justice
  • Justice Department says he tried to go to Yemen to join al Qaeda
  • Zea is set to be arraigned Friday afternoon

(CNN) -- A Long Island man was arrested Friday after investigators say he attempted to travel to Yemen to join al Qaeda and conspired with the terror group from the United States, according to an indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Marcos Alonso Zea, 25, also known as "Ali Zea," was arrested at his home in Brentwood, New York, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and obstruction and attempted obstruction of justice, the indictment says.

Zea has been on the FBI's radar since 2011, when authorities said he began plotting a trip to Yemen to "participate in violent jihad" alongside al Qaeda, a Justice Department statement says. Customs officials in the United Kingdom detained him while he was en route to the Arabian Peninsula on January 4, 2012, and returned him to the U.S.

After his failed attempt to travel to Yemen, Zea continued his involvement with al Qaeda, authorities said. Investigators monitored conversations between him and another Long Island man -- 18-year-old Justin Kaliebe -- in which the two discussed traveling to the Arabian Peninsula to participate in jihad.

"I just hope, my story, my, the event that happened to me will help you guys move forward, inspire you," the FBI recorded Zea saying to Kaliebe, who attempted to travel to Oman on January 21, 2013, and was detained while boarding a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the indictment.

Zea also allegedly provided money to Kaliebe for his trip.

In February, Kaliebe pleaded guilty to attempting to provide support to terrorists, and he will be sentenced in December, according to Justice Department's statement. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

Once Zea realized he was under investigation in April 2013, he allegedly asked an acquaintance to erase several computer hard drives that contained incriminating information, investigators said, but his attempts were not successful.

"Despite being born and raised in the United States, Zea allegedly betrayed his country," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said of the arrest.

"Aspirants with lethal intent who seek terror training abroad are of paramount concern," New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Zea is set to be arraigned Friday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay at the Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, the Justice Department's statement said.

Lynch has written a letter to the court requesting that Zea be held without bail.

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