Lackawanna man accused of attempting to join ISIL

Jul 29, 2015

A Lackawanna man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to join and recruit for a notorious terrorist organization.

The Olcott St. scene of Wednesday morning's raid in Lackawanna.
Credit Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

Arafat Nagi, 44, was arraigned Wednesday in federal court on a charge of attempting to support a terrorist organization. U.S. Attorney William Hochul says Nagi pledged allegiance to ISIL and tried to recruit others via social media.

"In addition to pledging support to this organization, on two separate occasions Nagi traveled from Lackawanna, New York, to Turkey with the intention of joining ISIL," Hochul said during a Wednesday morning news conference. "Further, before the trips were embarked upon, the complaint alleges that Nagi purchased numerous items of military combat gear."

The purchases, according to the federal complaint, included night-vision goggles, a machete, camouflage clothing and body armor and two black flags that are known for use by ISIL members.

The FBI raided Nagi's house at 151 Olcott Street in Lackawanna Wednesday morning.

"There were rumors going around that he was aiding," said one nearby resident who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's what we could get out of everyone we asked."

Hochul says Nagi espoused "violent jihad" and had raised suspicions among his Lackawanna neighbors. Information leading to his arrest came from the community, who Hochul says felt the man posed a threat.

"I would defer to the statements of one community member who is quoted or at least referenced in our complaint. That person felt that Nagi did pose a threat to this area," said Hochul. "As you go through some of the items As you go through some of the items of military gear, which include at least in one instance a weapon, we certainly took very seriously the possibility of danger to the community."

The investigation into his activities has gone on several months.

Nagi faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Federal prosecutors argue he should be detained pending trial. He will be back in court Friday morning.