The arrest of an alleged would-be terrorist from Beavercreek — the second in the Dayton area and sixth in southern Ohio since 2015 — represents a counter-terrorism victory, according to a former professor who wrote the first classroom terrorism textbook.
Naser Almadaoji, 19, was charged Thursday with trying to join an ISIS affiliate. He was arrested Wednesday at a Columbus airport allegedly trying to travel to Kazakhstan and then to Afghanistan to be trained by ISIS.
Almadaoji, a naturalized American born in Iraq, faces a detention hearing next week in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. He is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
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According to a criminal complaint, Almadaoji communicated via an online messaging app with someone he thought was an ISIS supporter but actually was an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
"This is the best type of counter-terrorism when you catch it this early and denying that recruitment opportunity for ISIS," said Wright State University Professor Emeritus Donna Schlagheck, the former political science department leader who wrote International Terrorism in 1988.
“These are the stories that make a difference, I hope, for some of the young people who I hope will read (this) story.”
Schlagheck said there is a profile of young Middle Eastern males vulnerable to radicalization for terrorism. People in that category feel they have no real job or education opportunities and feel discriminated against because of they religion or ethnicity, she said.
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“They had no path forward, if you will, the way we like to think in the United States — you work hard, you get some education, you have a family, you’re invested in society,” Schlagheck said. “These young people have no investment in society and they feel it has no investment in them.
“They want some meaning. They’d love to be heroic. They really want to be part of a group. Those are sociology dynamics that apply to everybody.
“But when you’ve been left out, especially economically, when you feel there is maybe hostility toward your religion or your ethnicity in this country, this is a way to push back.”
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Other terrorism cases listed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Southern District of Ohio since 2015 include:
• Munir Abdulkader, 22, from West Chester, was sentenced in November 2016 to 20 years in prison and lifetime supervised release for plotting to murder a military base employee, record it for propaganda and attack a Cincinnati-area police station in the name of ISIS.
• Laith Alebbini, 26, of Dayton, was indicted for conspiracy and attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS in the form of personnel, namely himself. He was arrested April 26, 2017 at the Cincinnati/Kentucky International Airport. Alebbini has waived a jury trial and is awaiting a new trial date.
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• Christopher Lee Cornell, a 22-year-old from near Cincinnati, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and lifetime supervised release for plotting, planning and attempting an attack on government officials during the State of the Union Address in 2015 in the name of ISIS.
• In November 2016, Aaron T. Daniels was indicted for attempting to provide material support to ISIS by sending money and offering himself. Daniels was arrested Nov. 7, 2016, as he attempted to leave Columbus to fly to Libya. Daniels pleaded guilty was sentenced in July 2018 to more than 6.5 years in prison.
• Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was sentenced to 22 years in prison for traveling to Syria to provide material support to al-Nusrah Front and planning to kill military and other government officers in the United States He pleaded in August 2015 but the case was kept under seal until June 2017 because of an ongoing investigation.
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Schlagheck said ISIS has been diminished and recent online efforts have focused on recruiting people for a heroic last stand.
She said that while there are personal privacy concerns in these type of FBI investigations of disenfranchised individuals, they yield important results.
“I think this is what counter-terrorism has to be doing. It’s internet recruiting now on a global basis. It’s catching it very, very early rather than having to have bullet-proof window, blast-proof buildings, etc.,” Schlagheck said. “When people get disconnected this way — economically, culturally, religiously — that creates a whole vulnerable pool of recruits.”
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