Naser Almadaoji, 19, of Beavercreek, was arrested at the Columbus airport Wednesday and had tickets to travel to Kazakhstan, Benjamin Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said Thursday.
“He was planning to then be smuggled into Afghanistan to go join ISIS Khorasan, the affiliate of ISIS that’s in Afghanistan,” Glassman said. “He intended to obtain training to use on behalf of ISIS.”
Defense attorney James Fleisher, who is representing Almadaoji, offered a brief statement today after Thursday’s court hearing.
“I can only say that my client is a 19-year-old citizen of the United States who is presumed by our law to be innocent of this charge, and that we intend to vigorously defend his case,” Fleisher said by email.
Beavercreek police assisted the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Almadaoji’s case Wednesday at a home in the 1500 block of North Fairfield Road, according to Beavercreek police.
When this news organization arrived at the home Thursday, a woman who answered the door said she didn’t speak English and said “no,” when asked if Almadaoji lived at the house. The woman also said “no,” when asked if she was related to the teen.
Almadaoji is suspected of traveling to Egypt and Jordan in February and told U.S. Customs and Border Protection that he returned because his backpack and $3,000 were stolen by a taxi driver. Almadaoji said he told the story to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, according to a criminal complaint.
According to the complaint, Almadaoji was born in Iraq and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Beavercreek school officials confirmed Almadaoji attended the district from 2011 to 2015, but withdrew from the school in September 2015. A school spokesperson said Almadaoji went to the school using the name Naser Munshid.
The government alleges on or about August 15 after Almadaoji returned to the U.S. he used an online messaging application to communicate with an FBI confidential source posing as an ISIS supporter. The next day, Almadaoji communicated again with the source, who put Almadaoji in touch with a another confidential source he believed to be a British contact in Iraq, according to the complaint.
During further conversations with the second source, Almadaoji pledged allegiance to ISIS and discussed his desire to cause conflict in the U.S. and abroad, the government alleges.
“Almadaoji did record a video of himself, pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is the leader of ISIS, and then sent that video on to a person that he believed to be a member of ISIS,” Glassman said. “Mr. Almadaoji had a lot of ideas about how he wanted to bring down the United States as a long term plan,” the U.S. attorney said.
During this morning’s hearing, it was ordered Almadaoji be detained until his detention hearing next Tuesday. A preliminary hearing also is scheduled for Nov. 8, however a federal grand jury could hear the case prior to that hearing for a possible indictment.
Almadaoji is a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the U.S. about a decade ago from Iraq, Glassman said.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and other state and local agencies.