A Western New York man is in federal custody after being charged with attempting to join ISIS in the Middle East, the FBI said Wednesday.
Arafat M. Nagi, 42, of Lackawanna, New York, a city located just south of Buffalo, appeared in the US. Federal court of the Western District of New York on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. told the media: “This is yet another occasion when the worldwide fight against international terrorism has returned to western New York.” Hochul said that Nagi, a U.S. citizen, had been back and forth from the front-lines of ISIS’s jihad in Syria and Yemen in 2012 and 2014.
The alleged terrorist’s Twitter account was riddled with thousands of Arabic tweets proclaiming support for ISIS, the FBI said. He used social media as a tool to recruit aspiring jihadis worldwide, according to the criminal complaint.
But he also allegedly declared his radical beliefs openly in Lackawanna and attempted to recruit within the local community. An FBI agent said in the complaint that he talked about “jihad to various people in the Lackawanna community and it is common for Nagi to get in verbal altercations over his jihadi beliefs.”
In 2012, Nagi “purchased a tactical vest, army combat shirt, body armor. Shahada [jihadist] flag, and combat boots.” the FBI said of Nagi’s preparation for his first journey to the Middle East. He would later acquire a tactical hunting knife, machete, night vision goggles, and other combat items, the complaint said.
Nagi lived just one block away from the “Lackawanna Six,” a group of six Yemeni-Americans who were convicted in 2003 of providing support to Al Qaeda, local news station WIVB reported.
If convicted of the charges brought up against him, Nagi faces a possible 15 year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
Nagi’s court appearance comes just one day after a Florida man who was allegedly linked to ISIS was charged with making plans to detonate a backpack bomb on a Florida beach.
Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, Florida, plotted to carry out an imminent attack on behalf of ISIS, the FBI said. He was arrested Monday after an FBI informant handed him a fake device which Suarez thought to be a nail bomb.