A New York man charged in Brooklyn federal court Monday allegedly supported a Nice-style attack on Times Square. Mohamed Rafik Naji, a permanent resident originally from Yemen, is accused of providing material support to ISIS. In the Nice attack, one man drove a truck into a dense holiday crowd, killing 86 people and injuring 434 others.
Naji expressed his support for the terrorist group on Facebook and through private communications, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly posted links to ISIS propaganda. The complaint also alleges that Naji travelled from the U.S. to Yemen in March 2016, with a layover in Turkey.
But getting to ISIS wasn't easy, according to alleged communications with a person court documents identify as Naji's wife. "It's very hard to get in I'm on my 5 try," he allegedly wrote. "Its mad difficult mad pop pop military and people here very scared." Other times, Naji wrote back to his "hunny" asking for thousands of dollars for travel. In one e-mail, he apparently sent the woman a video of his group taking fire.
An FBI informant made contact with Naji in August 2015, according to the complaint. The two discussed ways to get to Syria or other countries where ISIS has a presence, including Yemen. Naji allegedly returned to the U.S. in September 2015. In July 2016, just five days after the attack in Nice, the men discussed the act of terror and the potential to re-create it in New York.
"I was saying if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck and one drives it there to Times-Square and crush them," Naji allegedly wrote. "Times-Square day."