Mohamed Rafik Naji, a citizen of Yemen and a legal permanent resident of the United States, has been arrested after being recorded trying to talk to an ISIS informant about trying to carry out a Nice-style attack in Times Square. His plan involved running people over as many people as possible with a garbage truck and was inspired by the attack in Nice, France that happened on July 15th, 2016. Mohamed had been arrested previously for his plan, but only after the Eastern District of New York unsealed his court documents did people actually learn the crimes he had been charged with.
Who Is Mohamed Rafik Naji?
Mohamed Naji is a 37-year-old Yemen citizen who came to the United States. He was arrested in Brooklyn for planning a terrorist attack in one of New York City’s most populated areas: Times Square. He wanted to recreate a scene that was all too familiar to people who remembered the Nice, Frace attacks. That Bastille Day attack left 86 people dead and over 400 injured.
But before he had been recorded talking about his Times Square attack, the FBI and the federal government had started following him because he had previously pledged his allegiance to ISIS on social media.
Mohamed has a wife who he talked with about the difficulty he was having trying to contact ISIS while he was in Turkey. TheDailyBeast writes that he allegedly told his wife that “It’s very hard to get in [to ISIS] I’m on my 5 try. Its mad difficult mad pop pop military and people here very scared.”
The FBI alleges that between March 16, 2015 and September 12, 2015, Naji travelled overseas to places like Yemen and Turkey, to get in contact with ISIS. His time there was rough and after being unsuccessful in trying to get in contact with ISIS troops, he returned to JFK International Airport a couple thousand dollars poorer, more determined to join, and on a federal watch list.
While he was in Yemen, a confidential human source (CHS) started talking to Naji via Facebook. They continued their chats about ISIS and joining the caliphate once Naji returned home. The two kept in contact through July 19, 2016 which is when they started to talk about planning an attack in Times Square, just five days after the attack in Nice.
Below is a transcript of a conversation he had: