posted at 3:01 pm on November 22, 2016 by John Sexton
A Brooklyn cab driver was charged Monday with attempting to join ISIS and discussing a plot to run down people in Times Square using a garbage truck. From UPI:
Mohamed Rafik Naji was charged in federal court Monday with allegedly attempting to provide material support and resources to a terrorist group, based on Facebook posts for the last two years in support of the Islamic State, a trip to Yemen authorities say was to join the militant group and conversations with informants about attacking people in New York…
Naji had expressed interest in an attack similar to the one on Bastille Day this year in Nice, France, when a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd killing 86 and injuring hundreds of others. The New York Police Department and federal officials are on high alert with Thanksgiving coming and the Islamic State’s recent encouragement of attacks similar to the one on Bastille Day.
Naji flew to Yemen in 2015 but discovered it was harder than he expected to join ISIS because lone men traveling through Turkey were given extra scrutiny. From NBC News:
“We can’t get in,” he wrote in an email message to his girlfriend, then asked her to send him $2,000 for a plane ticket back home.
“It’s harder than I thought,” he wrote to her, saying he was tired of hiding in the mountains for three weeks.
He also sent her a selfie in which he wore all-black clothing, a tactical vest and a bandanna over his face, with a large knife handle visible, the court papers say. In a video he sent, titled “First day on the job,” gunshots can be heard, the papers say.
Naji’s defense attorney is claiming he was just traveling to visit his family.
As for the plot, it apparently hadn’t moved beyond the talking stage, but in conversations with informants after he returned to the U.S. in September 2015 Naji 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 may have been taking inspiration for the Nice-style attack from ISIS’ magazine Dabiq, the most recent issue of which praised the attack. Here’s the Fox News report on Naji’s arrest: