It turns out that New Jersey jihadist Carlos Almonte is the genocidal punster holding the “Death to All Juice” sign above — as captured by the indefatigable Pamela Hall, SIOA’s Director of Media and Communications, in 2008.
Congratulations to Pamela Hall for being way, way ahead of the curve.
And here is an illuminating article on the background of these two New Jersey jihadists: “From Troublemaking Teenagers to Terror Suspects,” by Kareem Fahim, Richard PÃ©rez-PeÃ±a and Karen Zraick for the New York Times, June 11:
NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — One was a spoiled child so prone to fits of rage — fights, screamed insults, threats — that his parents began taking him to psychiatrists at age 6 and medicating him in a vain struggle to control his moods. By their count, his short fuse and incendiary tongue forced him to change schools no fewer than 10 times.
The other was arrested three times in less than four months for petty crimes, and seemed like an aimless youth — until he developed a passion for a strict version of Islam that shocked and alienated his Dominican family. Within a few years, he was posting extremist views on the Internet and assailing the United States while predicting its downfall….
It is noteworthy how his “passion for a strict version of Islam” fed into his pre-existing pathologies. In a sane world, law enforcement officials would be studying this and formulating ways to stop it.
“Of course we tried everything we could,” said Nadia Alessa, mother of Mohamed M. Alessa, the one so given to angry outbursts. “We couldn’t just keep him at home.”
The next chapter in such tales often charts a descent into drugs or gangs, but Mr. Alessa, 20, and Carlos E. Almonte, 24, who both grew up in the New Jersey suburbs, apparently had other plans. They were arrested Saturday as they prepared to fly separately to Egypt — and, the authorities say, to join a militant group in Somalia and kill non-Muslims….
Many of their peers dismissed them as hapless blowhards, more pathetic than perilous; friends said they liked to play Ping-Pong, or go into Manhattan and hang out at a halal restaurant. Yet there they are, in transcripts of secretly recorded conversations, talking about shooting and beheading people, and sending American troops home “sliced up in 1,000 pieces.”
Mr. Alessa’s parents, Palestinian immigrants, are Muslim, but Ms. Alessa was at a loss to explain her only son’s recent transformation. She recalled asking why he was growing a beard: “He said real men grow their beards.”…
At the two public high schools, North Bergen and KAS Prep, Mr. Alessa made an escalating series of threats against students and staff members through 2005 and 2006, saying that he would blow up the school, mutilate gays and punish women who were not subordinate to men, according to officials granted anonymity to discuss confidential matters. Both schools alerted the Department of Homeland Security.
As a 10th grader at North Bergen High, he had to receive his lessons at a local public library under the eye of a security guard, said Paul Swibinski, a school spokesman, because “administrators felt that his presence in school posed a safety threat to other students and staff.”
In those years, neighbors say, the police were called to the Alessa home several times. The North Bergen police declined to give details, noting that juvenile records were not public, but Lt. Frank Cannella said: “He was known to us, I can tell you that much.”
The Suspects Meet
Around 2005, when he was 14 or 15, Mr. Alessa met Mr. Almonte, who lived in Elmwood Park, but was spending much of his time in North Bergen, 10 miles away. The two hung out with a group of young men who called themselves the PLO. Mr. Alessa was not particularly religious then, but Mr. Almonte, a recent convert to Islam, was becoming more so.
Growing up, Carlos Almonte had a less turbulent childhood. But by the time he was 18, he, too, was running afoul of the law.
In May 2004, with a month left in his senior year at Elmwood Park Memorial High School, Mr. Almonte, a naturalized citizen, was arrested for taking a knife to campus. That August, he was arrested for punching a youth in the parking lot of a supermarket. Two weeks later, he was caught drinking beer in a park.
It was around then, family friends say, that Mr. Almonte turned to Islam. He told Priscilla Caicedo, a young woman he met last year, that his interest began when he heard someone preaching at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus. He visited mosques in Paterson and Union City, and called himself Omar.
Mr. Almonte’s conversion, his compulsion to proselytize, and his friendship with Mr. Alessa all alienated his family, though he continued to live with them. The friction culminated in their living room on May 23, 2009, when, according to a police report, Mr. Almonte began preaching about Islam to his younger brother, Elvin, who demurred, and “Carlos became angry and they both began fighting.”
Their mother tried to separate them and Elvin bit her arm, thinking it was his brother’s. Carlos then struck Elvin in the back of the head with a picture frame.
One young man who befriended both suspects said that Mr. Almonte was more easygoing and supportive than Mr. Alessa, and that he liked to read and use computers. Another friend, Martin Robert, said that sometimes while playing Ping-Pong and basketball, Mr. Almonte would try to turn the conversation to Islam but would not insist. “He seemed like a nice, peaceful guy,” Mr. Robert said.
Another student who knew them casually, Mostafa Higazi, said the pair were “very oriented to politics.” He called Mr. Alessa “really a talker, just bragging,” while Mr. Almonte was quiet. He said that he did not recall specific things Mr. Alessa said, but that none of it resembled the bloody talk in the criminal complaint.
Ms. Caicedo met Mr. Almonte more than a year ago when she took her computer for repairs to a store where he worked near his home. Even in the store, she recalled, he began proselytizing, and gave her a book on Islam, which she said she never read.
They talked and traded instant messages, and went out once, as friends, last December. He took her to a Spanish-language service at a mosque in Union City and then to dinner at T.G.I. Friday’s. Quiet and serious, he told her he wanted to find a wife who knew that her role was to stay home to cook and clean. “He was like one of those men that had to be the dominant one,” she said.
Recently, Ms. Caicedo said, he told her he was moving to North Carolina, and arranged for her to get his job at the computer store. Hours before he was arrested at Kennedy Airport, they were at the store, Mr. Almonte training her.
A Friendship’s Dark Side
But others saw a darker side to the suspects and their friendship. In October 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received a tip that Mr. Alessa and Mr. Almonte talked about holy war and killing non-Muslims, and law enforcement agencies began keeping a watch on them. From the start, the authorities were in touch with Mr. Almonte’s family….
In February 2007, while Mr. Alessa was a high school senior, he and Mr. Almonte traveled to Jordan; the F.B.I. says it was in the vain hope of being recruited by a militant jihadist group.
On a Facebook page started in October 2008, Mr. Almonte posted long quotations from medieval Islamic scholars and present-day radicals like Abu Qatada, considered by many countries to be a terrorist, and the jihadist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.
Mr. Almonte was also outraged at the treatment of Muslim prisoners accused of terrorism. He posted a comment concerning Omar Khadr, a prisoner who said he was abused by American interrogators. Mr. Khadr is charged with throwing a grenade when he was 15 that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan. Mr. Almonte wrote: “We feel for our brothers unjustly locked up even afghanistan at the time didn’t pose a threat to america for them to attack them over 2 towers but the end of them will be like the end of persia, rome, n the soviet union.”
He posted a photo of himself at a Dec. 28, 2008, protest in Manhattan, holding a sign saying “DEATH TO ALL JUICE,” with the word “ZIONIST” written faintly above “JUICE.”
Kudos again to the unacknowledged photographer, Pamela Hall.
Mr. Almonte dismissed the religion of American Muslims, saying, “In truth, it isn’t Islam.” He showed a particular fixation on the ideas that Muslim men should be bearded, and should hold one another’s hands….