A 25-year-old Long Island man was arrested today for allegedly attempting to join al Qaeda in waging “jihad” in Yemen, according to New York State officials.
Court documents allege that between 2011 and 2013 Marcos Alonso Zea, also known as “Ali Zea,” “knowingly and intentionally” attempted to provide “material support and resources… including currency, monetary instruments and personnel, including himself ,” for an overseas terrorist attack. In December 2011 he booked a flight to Yemen but was intercepted by officials in London and turned back.
“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,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “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.”
Zea also allegedly aided 18-year-old Justin Kaliebe, who the Department of Justice describes as his “co-conspirator,” in his attempt to reach Yemen as well, telling him how to evade London security. Kaliebe has pleaded guilty to two terror-related charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6.
Prosecutors said that upon learning he was under investigation, Zea attempted to cover up evidence by destroying a desktop computer and a hard drive after learning the FBI was investigating him. The FBI managed to obtain the documents and discovered several materials associated with Islamic extremism, according to the Department of Justice.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Zea is being represented by defense attorney Sally Butler. Butler did not immediately return request for comment on this report.