BRENTWOOD, Long Island (PIX11) – “It’s terrible. My son, he don’t have no weapons. He don’t have nothing. We don’t help no terrorists over here.” That is how the Long Island father of a son charged with trying to join al-Qaida reacted on his front lawn Friday morning.
Unfortunately for Alvaro Zea, federal investigators have a different opinion about his son, Marcos Zea.
Federal prosecutors say that for nearly 18 months the 25-year-old tried to join al-Qaida. Born and raised in Suffolk County, Zea gave money not only to his friend Justin Kaliebe who is awaiting Federal sentencing on terrorism related charges, but also to a Long Island mosque.
His father’s reaction to the latter? “Why you donate to another country, when in this country there is poor people?”
He was alleged to be so committed to the cause, Zea made a trek to Yemen in January of 2012 but was detained at London’s Heathrow airport. Ultimately he was released and returned back to the states via JFK.
When he asked if he was concerned at that his son had been arrested? “Of course, I was concerned.”
As for the reaction he received when he asked why? “He said ‘I don’t know daddy. I don’t know. I don’t know why I’ve been arrested, I just went to another country to visit some other country,’ that’s it.”
As the heat of the Joint Terrorism Task Force was coming down, the Feds say that Zea ordered an associate to destroy hard drives on his computers.
Those drives had issues of Inspire Magazine on them. The digital magazine is viewed by law enforcement as terrorist propaganda to recruit operatives.
“To tell you the truth, my son was kind of lost his mind,” said Zea, whose other son is in the Air Force.
Zea attributes the downward spiral of his some to a class he enrolled in at Suffolk County Community College, “My son was learning the language of Arabic and that is where the problem starts.”
However, there was a twist. It was Alvaro who talked his son into learning Arabic, “Because he was going to go the Marines and I told him good thing another language so you can be like a translator or something.”
Zea’s arrest is the latest in a trend that bothers Homeland Security Committee Chairman Congressman Peter King. “It demonstrates that there is a realistic threat of Islamic radicalization within the New York, Long Island area,” King said to PIX11 News inside of his office. The Long Island Congressman added, “99% of American Muslims are outstanding people, but there is a core within that community which is very troubling.”
Zea is facing life in prison.