Iraqi-Born U.S. Citizen Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Join Islamic State

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AFP/File Fadel SENNA

Authorities arrested an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen Thursday in Ohio for allegedly attempting to join in the terrorist activities of the Islamic State (ISIS).

Naser Almadaoji, 19, was arrested Thursday at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, for allegedly attempting to travel from the U.S. to Afghanistan by way of Kazakhstan to join and support ISIS’s terrorist activities, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Officials say Almadaoji purchased a plane ticket to travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday with the intention of being smuggled into Afghanistan.

Almadaoji allegedly intended to undergo military training with the ISIS group Wilayat Khorasan to support ISIS or an affiliate of ISIS, officials said.

The Iraqi-born U.S. citizen allegedly told someone whom he thought had been in contact with the terrorist group that he had been interested in “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.”

Justice Department officials say that Almadaoji started planning his trip to Kazakhstan between September and October, and unsuccessfully traveled to Jordan and Egypt between February 16 and 24 to join a terrorist operation.

“Naser Almadaoji allegedly attempted to seek terrorist training in weapons and tactics and discussed a willingness to conduct terrorist ‘projects’ in the United States on behalf of foreign terrorist groups,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Protecting America from terrorist activity, including conduct like this, remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice.”

The number of people arrested on terrorism charges soared in the past week alone. FBI Counterterrorism Division Assistant Director Michael McGarrity said Almadaoji is the third person to be arrested on terrorism charges within the past week.

“As demonstrated by these arrests— two in Ohio and one in Illinois— the threat posed by terrorism remains extremely serious,” said McGarrity.

Officials charged the Iraqi-born U.S. citizen with allegedly attempting to provide material support to an ISIS-affiliated foreign terrorist organization and he remains in custody at the Montgomery County Jail.

If convicted on the terrorism charges, Alamdaoji could face up to 20 years in prison.

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