Sentencing underway for NJ man who tried to join group in Somalia in order to wage holy war

NEWARK, N.J. – A sentencing hearing has begun for the first of two New Jersey men who pleaded guilty to trying to join an armed Islamic group in Somalia in order to wage holy war against non-Muslims.

An attorney for Mohamed Alessa, of North Bergen, is arguing his client was more a misguided teenager manipulated by an undercover New York Police Department officer than a hardened would-be terrorist.

Alessa and Carlos Almonte, of Elmwood Park, could face decades in prison.

The two pleaded guilty in March 2011 to conspiring to join a group with ties to al-Qaida.

They were arrested in June 2010 at New York’s Kennedy Airport as they prepared to board separate planes to Egypt.

The case is being heard in federal court in Newark.

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