(NEW YORK) — An American man has been arrested for attempting to support ISIS by plotting a Times Square attack similar to the one that occurred in Nice, France this summer.
Mohammed Rafik Naji, a 37-year-old Brooklyn resident, left New York in March 2015 for Yemen where he “persistently tried to travel to areas controlled by ISIL” until September 2015, federal prosecutors said in a criminal complaint filed Saturday in the Eastern District of New York.
During that time, Naji spent six days hiding in the mountains without food or water, and it was his fifth attempt to reach ISIS territory, prosecutors discovered from intercepted emails. In his communications to a “recipient 1” Naji instructed the person to “erase all ur messages,” “even from your trash.”
Naji returned to the U.S. from the Middle East in September 2015, according to the complaint, and continued to express support for ISIS.
After the Nice attacks on July 14, in which 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ran down hundreds of people who were watching fireworks for Bastille day with a truck, Naji “expressed support for a similar attack in Times Square,” prosecutors said.
“If there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them shshshshshsh … Times Square day,” Naji stated in a recorded conversation with a informant, labeled in the complaint as a “Confidential Human Source.”
There is no evidence that Naji’s statement about a Times Square attack went anywhere beyond his imagination, prosecutors said.
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