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Press Release

Lackawanna Man Sentenced For Attempting To Provide Support To ISIS

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, NY – Arafat M. Nagi, 47, of Lackawanna, NY, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and 15 years supervised release by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. for the Western District of New York, and Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert of the FBI’s Buffalo Office made the announcement.

On August 28, 2014, a community member advised the FBI 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 ISIS 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 of meeting with members of ISIS.  Prior to traveling to Turkey, 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. Once in Turkey, Nagi purchased a SIM card and activated a Turkish cell phone number.  Facebook messages showed that the defendant contacted other individuals, who were prepared to help the defendant enter Syria to join ISIS, and exchanged Turkish cell phone numbers.  In addition, evidence seized from the defendant’s electronic devices showed that the defendant, while in Turkey, was researching how to travel from Istanbul to cities close to the Syrian border.

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 ISIS leaders; expressed agreement with ISIS tactics, including the killing of innocent men, women and children.  The individual further reported that defendant planned to travel to Yemen and Turkey again soon.

“Today’s sentencing serves as yet another sobering reminder that terrorism’s reach knows no boundaries and that its supporters may be found—even in our own backyard,” said U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Yet, today’s sentencing also demonstrates how members of the community play an important role in helping us to identify and eliminate those in our midst who support terrorism. Working with the community and with our partners in law enforcement, this Office will continue its vigilance in discharging our duty to enforce the rule of law so as to protect the lives of Americans at home and abroad and to preserve those values—such as liberty, tolerance, and justice—which define us as Americans.”

“Although today's sentencing of Arafat Nagi closes one FBI Buffalo counter-terrorism investigation, our office continues to identify and investigate potential existing or emerging threats,” said Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Philip Frigm. “Nagi's actions were not only a threat to this country, but his behavior exposed those around him to unwarranted public scrutiny and speculation. That, too, is unacceptable. Our office continues to engage with our partner communities to understand their perspectives and to provide them with the protection afforded every member of our society. It is through these partner communities that we gain a true understanding of radicalization and use our combined conviction to deter recruitment and the spread of radicalization propaganda. The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

This case was investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and assistance was provided by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy C. Lynch and Joel L. Violanti of the Western District of New York, and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Updated June 12, 2018