COLUMBUS, Ohio – A 19-year-old Ohio man was arrested at a Columbus airport for seeking military training from ISIS in order to conduct terrorist projects and cause the collapse of the United States, the Department of Justice announced.
Naser Almadaoji, an Iraqi-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested Wednesday at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, officials said.
Almadaoji is accused of having a plan to travel Wednesday to Astana, Kazakhstan, where he intended to be smuggled into Afghanistan to receive military training from ISIS Wilayah Khorasan and fight for the Islamic State or one of its affiliates, according to the Department of Justice.
Officials said Almadaoji was speaking with an individual whom he believed to be in contact with ISIS and said he wanted "weapons experts training, planning, executing, hit and run, capturing high value targets, ways to break into homes and avoid security guards. That type of training."
Almadaoji allegedly traveled to Egypt and Jordan between Feb. 16 and Feb. 24. In August, he spoke online with someone whom he believed to be in contact with ISIS organizations, officials said.
"I don’t wanna say here why I was in Egypt but (an Egyptian associate) and I planned something and it didn't work (out) well," Almadaoji said, according to authorities.
In the same month, Almadaoji told another person online that he was "always willing" to assist with "projects" in the U.S., officials 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," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said. "Protecting America from terrorist activity, including conduct like this, remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice."
According to an affidavit, Almadaoji pledged allegiance to ISIS and said he planned to "cause the collapse of the U.S. by starting a conflict between the government and anti-government militias."
Almadaoji is accused of recording and sending a video of himself wearing a headscarf and pledging allegiance to to the leader of the Islamic State.
He's also accused of translating ISIS propaganda from Arabic to English and telling his contact, "Don't thank me. ... It's my duty."
This is the third person arrested by the FBI on terrorism charges in just over a week, according to Assistant Director Michael Garrity, of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. He said two of the arrests were made in Ohio and one was made in Illinois.
"The threat posed by terrorism remains extremely serious," McGarrity said. "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."
Attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.