Lackawanna resident Arafat Nagi is the latest person among more than two dozen to be charged for trying to support ISIS in recent months. It follows Tuesday's arrest in Key West, Fla. of a man who allegedly wanted to detonate a bomb packed with nails at an area beach.
According to Nagi's complaint, the FBI was tipped to his extremist beliefs by an acquaintance who also described his propensity to get into arguments with people about violent jihad. The tipster said Nagi "was angry about the killing of rebels in Yemen, which he blamed on the United States; pledged an oath to ISIL leaders; expressed agreement with ISIL tactics, including the killing of innocent men, women and children."
Nagi allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS and the group's leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. He posted pro-ISIS comments on Twitter and urged people to support the group.
In April, for example, he posted a picture of a dead ISIS fighter with the caption, "Oh, you who are defaming the Islamic State, its soldiers shall be present at time of death. Those who have brains ought think & learn." In May, he posted a picture of someone being beheaded with the note: "Today, this filth has been killed in the state of Hums [city in Syria]. He waged a tougher war against Muslims. It is your paradise, rather, slaughter."
Nagi traveled to Turkey in October 2012 and July 2014 hoping to meet with ISIS members in Syria. Prior to traveling, he "purchased large number of military combat items, including a tactical vest, army combat shirt, body armor, a Shahada flag, combat boots, a backpack, burn kit, hunting knife, machete and night vision goggles."
In pursuit of his ultimate goal to fight alongside ISIS forces in Syria, the complaint says, Nagi borrowed several tactics from the ISIS eBook, "Hijrah to the Islamic State," a travel guide for wannabe jihadis that among other pointers includes ways on how best to reach Syria, how to pack and how to circumvent Turkish security forces to cross the border into Syria.
This is not the first time Lackawanna has been home to people accused of pursuing international terrorism. In 2002, six Yemeni-American men, known as the "Lackawanna Six," were inspired by an extremist imam to travel to an al-Qaida training camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to receive weapons training. The camp was visited by now-deceased al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden who gave a speech to the trainees.
If convicted Nagi faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.