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Press Release

Lackawanna Man Arrested, Charged With Attempting To Provide Support To Isil

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.–U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Arafat M. Nagi, 44, of Lackawanna, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support and resources, namely, personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization, ISIL. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Our continuing fight against international terrorism today returns to Western New York,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “As alleged, Arafat Nagi pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and the leader of this terrorist organization. After buying military combat gear, he traveled twice to Turkey in an effort to help the group. Thanks to the combined efforts of law enforcement and community members, this defendant is no longer capable of achieving his goal of joining the most despicable group of our time.”

“The FBI has a responsibility to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are positioned to identify existing or emerging threats,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Boetig. “Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) serve as the national platforms for deterring, detecting, and disrupting terrorist machinations. The JTTF in Buffalo relies on community engagement to gain perspectives on radicalization and to deter recruitment and the spread of radicalization messages. We continue to call upon people to contact law enforcement if they know of someone who has been influenced by ISIL rhetoric on social media – powerful propaganda that calls for followers to commit quick and unpredictable violent acts.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy C. Lynch and Joseph M. Tripi, who are handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on August 28, 2014, a community member advised the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the defendant spoke about violent jihad to various people in the Lackawanna community and it was common for Nagi to get into verbal complaints over his jihadi beliefs.

Further investigation determined that the defendant pledged allegiance to ISIL and the leader of the terrorist group, Abu Bakr al Bagdadi. Investigators learned that the defendant traveled to Turkey on two occasions, in October, 2012 and July 2014 with the intention to meet with members of the group. Evidence revealed that prior to this trip, the defendant purchased a large number of military combat items, including a tactical vest, army combat shirt, body armor, Shahada Flag, combat boots, backpack, burn kit, a hunting knife, machete and night vision goggles.

During follow up interviews in December, 2014 and March 2015, the community member who alerted the FBI regarding Nagi’s actions stated that the defendant still possessed radical political and religious views. According to the individual, Nagi was angry about the killing of rebels in Yemen which he blamed on the United States; pledged an oath to ISIL leaders; expressed agreement with ISIL tactics, including the killing of innocent men, women and children; and planned to travel to Yemen and Turkey again soon.  

The complaint is the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism task Force which includes the Amherst Police Department, the Buffalo Police Department, the U.S. Department of State, the Federal Protective Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the New York State Police, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, the Niagara Falls Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Branch. Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated July 29, 2015