A New York man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Yemen, the Justice Department said June 14.
Mohamed Rafik Naji pleaded guilty to the charge in February 2018 and was sentenced June 14 in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. DOJ said Naji promoted and distributed the terrorist organization’s propaganda on social media.
In March 2015, Naji went to Yemen in an effort to join IS. Prior to his trip, he had unknowingly told a government informant on social media about his plans and pledged his allegiance to IS, saying, “I belong to Islamic state only.”
After he returned to the U.S. in September 2015, Naji continued to support IS. He told the informant how easy it would be to carry out an attack that mimicked the IS-inspired terrorist truck attack in Nice, France, but in Times Square.
Naji said IS “want[s] an operation in Times Square” and added an ISIS “reconnaissance group . . . put up scenes of Times Square.” He then explained, “if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them . . . Times Square day.”
Naji has been incarcerated since his November 2016 arrest in Brooklyn.