FBI arrests New York man for providing material support to ISIS
The allegations that led to the arrest of Arafat Nagi, a 44-year-old American citizen, on Wednesday were based on the claims of FBI informants, online activity, international travel to Turkey, and purchases of combat gear and equipment.
According to a criminal complaint, an informant in August 2014 said Nagi talked about violent jihad with various people in the Lackawanna, New York community.
“One community member…felt that Nagi did pose a threat to this area,” US Attorney William Hochul said. “As you go through some of the (purchased) items of combat military gear, which include at least in one instance, a weapon, we certainly took it very, very seriously, the possibility of danger to the community.”
Nagi appeared in US District Court on Wednesday, where he was ordered to be held without bail pending a hearing on Friday.
The FBI alleges that Nagi traveled to Turkey on two occasions, in October 2012 and July 2014, with the intention of meeting with members of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL). His October trip was cut short because of a health condition.
The complaint said that from August 2012 through September 2013, Nagi purchased a large number of military combat items, such as a tactical vest, body armor, a Shahada Flag, combat boots, a hunting knife, a machete, and night vision goggles.
Nagi posted multiple photos of beheadings and severed heads online in 2014 before flying to Turkey, where he stayed for 10 days before continuing on to Yemen for a month, the criminal complaint said.
Further investigation by the FBI found Nagi to have pledged allegiance to IS and the leader of the terrorist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“The FBI has a responsibility to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are positioned to identify existing or emerging threats,” said Special Agent in Charge Brian Boetig said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
During follow up interviews, the informant said the defendant still had radical political and religious views, and that Nagi was angry about the killing of rebels in Yemen, which he blamed on the US. He also pledged an oath to IS leaders and expressed agreement with the group’s tactics, including the killing of innocent men, women, and children.
A raid was conducted on Nagi’s home on Wednesday morning.
“They swarmed the house,” neighbor Julio Alvarado told the Associated Press. Alvarado was surprised by the accusations against Nagi. “He was helping with the soccer club. It’s not like he was a bad guy.”
The FBI said it believes Nagi was acting alone.
Arafat Nagi’s arrest is the latest in a widespread FBI counter-terrorism operation against alleged IS -inspired attacks meant to take place in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security had warned of a heightened terror threat connected with July 4 celebrations. The agency’s director, James Comey, said the FBI arrested more than 10 people, which he believes stopped acts of violence in the month before the holiday.