June 12 (UPI) — A New York man who showed interest in supporting Islamic State was sentenced to 15 years in prison, U.S. attorneys announced Monday.
Arafat M. Nagi, 47, of Lackawanna, N.Y., first came onto the FBI’s radar back in 2014 when an acquaintance called the law enforcement agency to say “it was common for Nagi to get into verbal complaints over his jihadi beliefs” and further investigation revealed that he pledged allegiance to Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al Bagdadi.
“Investigators learned that the defendant traveled to Turkey on two occasions, in October 2012 and July 2014, with the intention of meeting with members of Islamic State,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Prior to traveling to Turkey, the defendant purchased a large number of military combat items, including a tactical vest, army combat shirt, body armor, Shahada Flag, combat boots, backpack, burn kit, a hunting knife, machete and night vision goggles.Once in Turkey, Nagi purchased a SIM card and activated a Turkish cell phone number.”
The statement continued: “Facebook messages showed that the defendant contacted other individuals, who were prepared to help the defendant enter Syria to join ISIS, and exchanged Turkish cell phone numbers. In addition, evidence seized from the defendant’s electronic devices showed that the defendant, while in Turkey, was researching how to travel from Istanbul to cities close to the Syrian border.”
Follow up interviews with the acquaintance in 2015 indicated that Nagi hadn’t changed his views and was angry about the United States’ support for the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday, Nagi told U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara that he “wanted nothing to do with violence” committed by Islamic State, the Buffalo News reported.
And in an earlier letter to Arcara, Nagi said he was only interested in working on humanitarian missions conducted by Islamic State.
“The most well organized group in Syria was the Islamic State,” Nagi said.. “I wanted to help, not as a fighter as some suggested, but to help in a way that I won’t get involved in the fighting, but to volunteer in humanitarian aid.”
Nagi was found guilty of attempting to provide material support and resources to Islamic State and will serve 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release.