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Ohio man faces 20 years in prison for attempting to join ISIS

A judge advocate office gavel. (Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte/U.S. Air Force)
October 26, 2018

A 19-year-old Ohio man was arrested Wednesday for attempting to provide material support to ISIS and now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen Naser Almadaoji was apprehended at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, according to the Justice Department.

According to the criminal complaint, Almadaoji was scheduled to fly to Astana, Kazakhstan on October 24 and then planned to be smuggled into Afghanistan to be trained by and to fight for ISIS.

In February, Almadaoji traveled to Egypt and Jordan. Then in August, he began communicating with whom he believed to be an ISIS operative.

He told that individual he tried to join a terrorist organization and said, “I don’t wanna say here why I was in Egypt but him [an Egyptian associated] and I planned something and it didn’t work at [sic] well.”

Almadaoji also spoke to another person he believed to be working with ISIS and told him, he was “always willing” to assist with “projects” in the United States and he planned to cause the collapse of the United States by starting a conflict between the United States Government and anti-government militias.

He sent the contact a video of himself pledging allegiance to ISIS.

Almadaoji translated ISIS propaganda from Arabic to English, and told his contact, “Don’t thank me . . . it’s my duty.”

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said, “Naser Almadaoji allegedly attempted to seek terrorist training in weapons and tactics and discussed a willingness to conduct terrorist ‘projects’ in the United States on behalf of foreign terrorist groups. Protecting America from terrorist activity, including conduct like this, remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice.”

Assistant Director Michael Garrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division said, “This is the third individual arrested by the FBI on terrorism charges in just over a week.  As demonstrated by these arrests — two in Ohio and one in Illinois — the threat posed by terrorism remains extremely serious. The FBI is working with our law enforcement partners day and night through our Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the nation to identify terrorists and those who support them.  The American public also has an important role to play, and we urge anyone who sees something suspicious to contact law enforcement.  Your tips are vitally important to protecting our country.”

“According to the charging document, Almadaoji wanted to make his way to Afghanistan to train with an ISIS organization. He allegedly pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS in a video in which he wore a head scarf and had plans to cause conflict in America between the United States Government and anti-government militias. These are serious allegations, and thwarting terrorist threats remains a top priority for the United States Attorney’s Office,” said United States Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio.