A man from New Jersey was arrested in Kenya recently for his ties to al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group.
The Department of Justice said late last week that Karrem Nasar was trying to help al Shabaab, because the October 7 attack by terrorist group Hamas against Israel motivated him to do so.
Nasr is a citizen of the U.S., and moved to Egypt in July, the DOJ said. Officials in Nairobi took him into custody back on December 17, and he was brought back to America last Thursday.
Prosecutors said that they were charging Nasr, who is 23 years old, with “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”
If he is found guilty of that charge and receives the maximum sentence, he could spend 20 years in jail.
The U.S. has designated al Shabaab as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
Damian Williams, a U.S. attorney, commented on the case recently when he said:
“As alleged, Karrem Nasr, motivated by the heinous terrorist attack perpetuated by Hamas on October 7, devoted himself to waging violent jihad against America and its allies.”
Prosecutors further said he was “bent on joining and training with al Shabaab,” which is why he went to Kenya from his new home in Egypt.
Nasr had exchanged communications with a confidential source at the FBI and made multiple online postings in which he said he was considering “engaging in jihad for a long time, and he was particularly motivated to become a jihadi by the October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorist attack in Israel,” according to prosecutors.
The DOJ said that Nasr had already some steps to official join al Shabaab and be trained by them. He went to Kenya to meet some members of the terrorist organization before traveling onto Somalia, where he would be able to join them.
Before he was able to do that, though, Kenyan authorities took him into custody.
Ever since Hamas’ heinous attack on Israel in early October, threats against both Muslims and Jews in the U.S. have soared. The DOJ has been monitoring these threats that are being carried out by people who are considered Islamophobic and antisemitic.
The levels of both of those have only risen since the Middle East war broke out, according to the DOJ.
Last month, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, said that the levels of threats had become so elevated that he was seeing “blinking lights everywhere.”
The DOJ issued a joint bulletin with the Department of Homeland Security in December, saying that other terror groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda would most likely use the war between Israel and Hamas “to increase calls for violence in the U.S. during the holiday season compared to prior years.”
The “primary targets” of those threats were likely to be synagogues and churches – places where large groups of people were expected to gather for holiday celebrations.