NEW YORK — A Brooklyn man has been arrested on terrorism charges accusing him of expressing support for a truck attack in Times Square like the one by the Islamic State group in France.
A criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn says Mohamed Rafik Naji traveled in 2015 to Turkey and Yemen in an attempt to fight for the group.
The 37-year-old's 2015 trip to Yemen was allegedly his fifth attempt to reach ISIS-controlled territory. He told an unnamed associate that he originally planned to bring his wife with him to Turkey.
"If you go as a single man or if they suspect you in Turkey, they will stop you in Turkey right before you get out of their airport," court documents report Naji saying.
Naji allegedly told the associate that ISIS wants to conduct an "operation" in Times Square. It says he referenced how a cargo truck plowed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing dozens.
The Yemen native allegedly began expressing support for ISIS on social media beginning in 2014.
Court documents highlighted several examples of ISIS sympathizing over the years.
"The cover photograph depicts two circles: one contains a collage of the flags of various countries and the other contains an image of the black ISIL flag. Two arrows are below the circles, with one pointing in the direction of the ISIL image and the other pointing in the direction of world flags," a criminal complaint filed in federal court revealed.
In 2015, Naji posted "Allah Akbar" with a video showing ISIS fighters in combat.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Monday regarding the arrest.
“The arrest of Mohamed Rafik Naji on charges he provided material support to ISIL is a sharp reminder of the evolving threat of global terrorism. New York must remain vigilant in the face of hate and intolerance, and continue to advance the core values of democracy that this state and nation were founded upon. While we do not have any specific threat at this time, public safety is paramount and we will continue to work aggressively with all local and federal partners. I would like to thank the dedicated professionals at the FBI, US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District, and state and local police on the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their efforts to keep New Yorkers safe."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.