Charges filed against a New York man for “attempting to provide material support and resources” to ISIS show that he stocked up on everything needed for a terror attack, including Shahada flags, on eBay.
Arafat M. Nagi, 44, a U.S. citizen who lived in Lackawanna, N.Y., made his first appearance in court today on the charges that could bring up to 15 years in prison.
A person “previously convicted of terrorism offenses” from Nagi’s home city was interviewed by the FBI in August 2014 and told agents that the unemployed, divorced father of two adult children was talking about jihad around the community and it was “common for Nagi to get into verbal altercations over his jihadi beliefs.”
The complaint says his terror activities began around August 2012. He flew to Turkey for one day in October 2012, flying home because of a gallbladder infection. He traveled to Turkey for 10 days in July 2014 and then went to Yemen, where he stayed until returning to the United States in September. He was interviewed at the time by Customs and Border Protection officials about his travels.
Nagi claimed that while in Turkey he was holed up at the Holiday Inn in Istanbul, and that he only went to Yemen to see an uncle. He returned with two cell phones and an iPad, and told officials he didn’t support any jihadist groups.
He began his eBay stock-up in August 2012, with a tactical vest with armor plates and an army combat shirt. In September of that year, he snatched up body armor with side trauma plates, a Shahada flag and combat boots.
In January 2013, Nagi bought a “Hamas-style” Islamic headband, followed the next few months by camouflage pants, Kevlar tactical gloves, a combat face mask, military-style backpack, and combat hunting knife.
That fall, he bought a burn kit, another large black Shahada flag, night vision goggles and a camouflage long-sleeved T-shirt.
Nagi’s Twitter account was deactivated by the suspect last September, but a quick search of interactions he had with other users goes back to December 2013. The FBI logged more than 7,000 “potentially relevant” tweets from his account, mostly in Arabic.
Before his 2014 trip to Turkey, he tweeted “my pledge to hear and obey Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
The FBI informant told agents in December 2014 that the oath made Nagi “compelled to act on behalf of ISIL” and he “expressed concern that Nagi may do something in the United States.”
The complaint describes a few more contacts between the informant and FBI, including a March conversation about Nagi’s plans to go back to Turkey and cross into the Islamic State after receiving some insurance settlement money.
Special Agent in Charge Brian Boetig of the Buffalo FBI office said today that the Joint Terrorism Task Force “relies on community engagement to gain perspectives on radicalization and to deter recruitment and the spread of radicalization messages.”
“We continue to call upon people to contact law enforcement if they know of someone who has been influenced by ISIL rhetoric on social media – powerful propaganda that calls for followers to commit quick and unpredictable violent acts,” Boetig said.