USA v. Naji, Mohamed Rafik
Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)
[EDNY] Mohamed Rafik Naji of Brooklyn, NY, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Naji, a lawful permanent resident originally from Yemen, viewed and distributed ISIS propaganda before traveling from New York to Yemen in March 2015 in an effort to join ISIS. While in Yemen, Naji repeatedly tried to travel to areas controlled by ISIS, explaining in emails with an associate in the United States that he was on his fifth attempt to reach ISIS. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to join ISIS in Yemen. Naji was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to join ISIS in Yemen. Following his return to the United States in September 2015, Naji continued to express his support for ISIS and violent jihad. In July 2016, following the ISIS-inspired terrorist truck attack in Nice, France, that killed scores of innocent civilians, Naji told a government informant how easy it would be to carry out a similar attack in Times Square, explaining that ISIS "want[s] an operation in Times Square" and stating that an ISIS "reconnaissance group . . . put up scenes of Times Square." Naji further explained, "if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them . . . Times Square day."