A Brooklyn man was arrested on Monday and charged with trying to provide material support to terrorists after he tried to join the Islamic state and told an FBI informer that he wanted to carry out an attack like the one in Nice, France that killed 86 people last summer.
Mohamed Rafik Naji, 37, began expressing support for the Islamic State on social media in December 2014 and even traveled to Turkey and Yemen to try to join the group, according to a criminal complaint.
According to a statement released by the Justice Department, after Naji returned to the United States in September 2015 from his six-month trip, he continued to express support for the terrorist attack in France, and expressed support for a similar attack in Times Square.
According to the New York Times, prosecutors based their allegations against Naji in part on a series of recorded conversations he had both in Yemen and in the United States with an F.B.I. informer.
He told the informer the best ways to join the Islamic State, according to the complaint, and described the group’s desire to attack Times Square with a garbage truck, similar to the attack in Nice in July.
“I was saying if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck, and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them,” he told the informer.
“They want an operation in Times Square, reconnaissance group already put out a scene, the Islamic State already put up scenes of Times Square, you understand,” he added. “I said that was an indication for whoever is smart to know.”
In another conversation that took place over Facebook while Mr. Naji was in Yemen, prosecutors said, he told the informer, “I belong to Islamic State only.”
“As alleged, the defendant expressed a devotion to join ISIL through both conversation and social media, traveling to Yemen in an effort to join their ranks,” New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a news release. “Detectives and agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Force uncovered the alleged terrorist objectives of the defendant. I want to commend their work in continually protecting New York City, and our nation, from those who seek to harm us.”
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