Ohio Man Arrested Attempting to Join ISIS Affiliate in Afghanistan

Federal prosecutors say that 19-year-old Naser Almadaoji of Beavercreek, Ohio, was arrested on Wednesday attempting to fly to Kazakhstan via Washington, D.C., and Germany, where he intended to be smuggled into Afghanistan to join the ISIS affiliate there.

Almadaoji's arrest at the John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, was the culmination of an investigation that began in February of this year after he was questioned by immigration officials on his return from a trip to Egypt and Jordan.

He later began communicating online with someone he believed to be an ISIS operative, who was actually an FBI confidential source. He told the confidential source that he wanted to join up with ISIS in Afghanistan because he wanted "weapons experts training, planning, executing, hit and run, capturing high-value targets, ways to break into homes and avoid security guards."

Almadaoji attended Beavercreek City Schools in southwest Ohio near Dayton until September 2015, at which point he withdrew from school.

According to U.S. Attorney for Southern Ohio Benjamin Glassman, Almadaoji came to the U.S. from Iraq about a decade ago. Glassman also said that at some point Almadaoji made a video of himself pledging allegiance to ISIS "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A Justice Department press release summarized the allegations against Almadaoji:

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Almadaoji purchased a plane ticket for travel on October 24. It is alleged that Almadaoji intended to travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, where he planned to be smuggled into Afghanistan so that he could receive military training from ISIS Wilayat Khorasan and then fight for the Islamic State (or one of its affiliates). Almadaoji explained to an individual whom he believed to be in contact with ISIS that he wanted “weapons experts training, planning, executing, hit and run, capturing high value targets, ways to break into homes and avoid security guards. That type of training.”

It is alleged that, between February 16 and 24, 2018, Almadaoji traveled to Egypt and Jordan. Following that travel, in August 2018, Almadaoji allegedly communicated online with an individual he believed was a contact with ISIS organizations. He represented that he tried to join a terrorist organization during his travels to Jordan and Egypt stating, “I don’t wanna say here why I was in Egypt but him [an Egyptian associated] and I planned something and it didn’t work at [sic] well.”

In the same month, it is alleged that Almadaoji told a second individual online – whom he also believed to be associated with ISIS – that he was “always willing” to assist with “projects” in the United States.

According to the affidavit, Almadaoji pledged allegiance to ISIS and discussed with the second contact that he planned to cause the collapse of the United States by starting a conflict between the United States Government and anti-government militias.” Almadaoji allegedly recorded and sent a video of himself wearing a headscarf and pledging allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State.

It is further alleged that Almadaoji translated ISIS propaganda from Arabic to English, and told his contact, “Don’t thank me . . . it’s my duty.”

This is the third terrorism arrest by federal officials in the past week:

Ashraf al-Safoo (34), was arrested at his Chicago-area home late last week and charged with leading an online propaganda operation, Khattab Media Foundation, that promoted ISIS ideology. Al-Safoo is a native of Mosul, Iraq, who came to the U.S. in 2008.

Alaa Mohd Abusaad (22), who lived in the Toledo, Ohio, area was arrested earlier this week for directing others on financially supporting Al-Qaeda in Syria, including instructions on avoiding suspicion and making contacts

According to the Justice Department's criminal complaint against Almadaoji, he hoped to provoke a civil war in America and suggested murdering militia leaders.

As Dayton Daily News notes, Almadaoji is the fourth person from southwest Ohio to be arrested and charged with crimes related to ISIS:

Laith Waleed Alebbini (26) of Dayton, a citizen of Jordan and a U.S. legal permanent resident since 2014, was arrested in April 2017 at the Covington, Kentucky, airport while attempting to board a flight to the Middle East where he intended to join ISIS in Syria.

Munir Abdulkader (22) of West Chester Twp. was arrested in May 2015 attempting to purchase an assault rifle that he intended to use to attack police and military officials. His cousin had previously died fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Christopher Lee Cornell (20) of Green Twp. was arrested outside a Cincinnati-area gun store after purchasing a weapon and ammunition, and charged with planning to attack the U.S. Capitol with pipe bombs and shooting congressional personnel as they left their buildings.

The Program on Extremism at George Washington University reported earlier this month that 166 individuals have been charged in the U.S. with ISIS-related offenses since March 2014, representing arrests in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

FBI officials have stated publicly that there are ongoing ISIS-related investigations in every state in the country.