BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Federal prosecutors in Buffalo were successful in convincing U.S. Magistrate Hugh Scott that Arafat Nagi, charged with attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group ISIL, is both a flight risk and a threat to the community.
In denying bail, Scott took special note that Nagi had once threatened to behead his own daughter.
William Hochul, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said, “Mr. Nagi is considered to be so dangerous that there would be no conditions which would assure the safety of the community short of jail, pending trial.”
Prosecutors said searches of Nagi’s house in Lackawanna produced new evidence of tactical large knives, and a sword discovered in the garage. Agents also said Nagi had access to an assault rifle and had a carrying case for the weapon in his bedroom.
He also had purchased military items including goggles, combat boots, and body armor, according to the federal complaint against him.
Nagi was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and scanned the gallery before taking his seat beside his attorney, Jeremy Schwartz.
Schwartz said Nagi’s family was willing to put up $75,000 worth of property toward potential bail. He had asked that his client be allowed to remain at home with an ankle bracelet.
“The government hasn’t proven or given enough evidence that Mr. Nagi is an unreasonable risk of flight or danger,” he said. “The knives that were seized, none of those are illegal items and they don’t have any evidence he was going to use them unlawfully against anyone.”
The FBI arrested Nagi after saying he had taken an oath of allegiance to the leaders of ISIL. They believe he had hoped to make his way to Syria to lend his support.
They say he attempted to recruit others through social media postings, and that he had told his sister he was ready to commit himself to the terrorist cause.
“We thought he got radicalized, now at this point, where it was imminent that he was going to travel and do something,” said Steven Lanser, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge.
Nagi had been to Turkey on two occasions and was reportedly scoping out entry points into Syria, according to federal agents.
Defense Attorney Schwartz says Nagi could not travel now without a passport and questions the government’s evidence including any alleged statements he made on social media.
“Political speech, even very unpopular political speech, is still protected under the First Amendment,” he said.
Nagi will remain in the custody of federal marshals until he goes to trial.