The FBI has arrested a Brooklyn man for allegedly "providing material support" to ISIS after traveling to Yemen last year.
Mohammed Rafik Naji, 37, was arrested for allegedly traveling to Yemen and Turkey in March in an attempt to join the terrorist group—while in Yemen, police say he "persistently tried to travel to areas" controlled by the Islamic State, and once emailed an "associate" to say he was on his fifth attempt to try and reach ISIS-controlled territory. In April 2015, he emailed his friend a video file with sounds of gunfire, reportedly saying "First day on the job."
According to the FBI, Naji began expressing support of ISIS on social media shortly beforehand, in December 2014. He returned to the United States from Yemen in September 2015, and allegedly continued expressing support for ISIS after his return. After the deadly Bastille Day attack in Nice, in which a truck driver killed 84 people by barreling into crowds watching a fireworks displace, Naji expressed support for a similar attack in Times Square. In 2015, he allegedly claimed his allegiance to ISIS, saying "I belong to Islamic State only."
"They want an operation in Times Square, reconnaissance groups already put out a scene," Kaji reportedly told an FBI informant in July 2015. "The Islamic State already put up scenes of Times Square ... I said that was an indication for whoever is smart to know."
Earlier this month, an online, English-language ISIS magazine recommended the 90th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as an "excellent target" for an attack that could be carried out by a lone wolf. The magazine said that anyone behind the wheel of a large truck can inflict just as much damage as a regular military fighter, the NY Post reports. (The NYPD announced last week that security will be tight and officers are on high alert for this year's parade.)
"The defendant was persistent in his efforts to join ISIL and support its terrorist objectives, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers said in a statement. "We will continue to identify and prosecute individuals like Naji who seek to empower our nation's enemies and endanger our citizens and partners around the world."