A New York man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to join and provide material support for ISIS.
As the Washington Examiner reports, 40-year-old Mohamed Rafik Naji claimed it would be easy to carry out a domestic terror attack in Times Square and traveled to Yemen in 2015 to officially join the group.
After returning to the United States in September 2015, Naji repeatedly distributed pro-ISIS messages on social media and advised an individual on how to travel overseas and join the terrorist group.
That individual was a confidential FBI informant, the Justice Department said in a press release Friday. Naji went on to tell the informant that he had pledged allegiance to ISIS, saying “I belong to the Islamic State only.” He also discussed the potential for carrying out a terrorist attack in Times Square, suggesting that a garbage truck could be driven into a crowd of pedestrians.
Naji was arrested in 2016 and pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists in 2018. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Friday.
“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,” the Justice Department said shortly after Naji’s arrest in 2016, via the Washington Times.
Naji confessed to wanting to join the group and to recruit “another person,” Reuters reported in 2016.
“I traveled to Yemen in 2015 to join ISIS and I encouraged another person to join,” Naji said to U.S. District Judge Frederic Block via the report. The two reportedly failed to become members.
“Extremists like Mr. Naji believe murdering innocent people advances their political agendas,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney per the Washington Examiner. “In the end, Mr. Naji, like many others before him, find the only thing their actions lead to is a different vantage point from which to watch the world pass by — through the steel bars of a federal prison.”