‘A stark reminder’: Lee County resident arrested on federal terrorism charges, supports ISIS
The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that Nayef Qashou is being held in a detention facility in Montgomery after being arrested in regards to a substantial terrorism probe.
During this multi-year probe, the FBI said Qashou told agents he would execute an American soldier if ordered to do so by the Islamic State (ISIS). The Lee County resident was taken into custody on Monday. He is reportedly charged with lying to the FBI and destroying records.
In a newly unsealed affidavit, the FBI explained that Qashou arrived in the country in 2015 with plans to study nursing at Southern Union State Community College’s Opelika campus. He is a dual Jordanian and American citizen who grew up in Saudi Arabia, authorities noted.
The FBI has interviewed him over 12 times since then. Agents also searched his home in Auburn, telling a judge they were looking for computer equipment and computer storage devices.
Per The Associated Press, the FBI advised that Qashou used encrypted phone apps to communicate with suspected terrorists who told him he should carry out an attack in the United States.
The encrypted communications included the discussion of attacks against U.S. forces, among other things, according to the affidavit.
“Qashou would not tell interviewers exactly how he responded to the suggestion to conduct a U.S. attack,” FBI Special Agent Scott Sullivan wrote in the affidavit. “He stated he essentially responded by saying the only way he could justify an attack is for it to be against U.S. Armed Forces personnel on U.S. soil.”
Qashou also claimed to FBI agents that he does not believe in violence.
However, he also said he would help ISIS and “drive fuel trucks, feed troops, and use a gun to defend against U.S.-led attacks against ISIS,” the affidavit outlined.
The man consented to numerous interviews at the FBI’s Auburn field office, where he allegedly voluntarily shared some eyebrow raising information, including his desire to join fighters in Syria.
The affidavit additionally stated that Qashou tried to minimize his support of “radical Islamic ideology.”
“Qashou stated he believed ISIS is fighting a humanitarian war that will benefit all Muslims in the Middle East,” the document explained.
He reportedly ended one of the interviews by saying he felt “it was his duty as a Muslim to inform the interviewing agents that he thinks the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is innocent and the FBI should reopen the case to examine all the evidence.”
This comes the week after the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Last week, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03), who represents Lee County, spoke about the serious dangers of domestic terrorism. Rogers is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
He reacted to the news of Qashou’s arrest on Wednesday in a statement.
“Today’s arrest is a stark reminder that terrorism remains a threat in our own backyard,” Roger said.
“According to the FBI, Qashou used encrypted phone apps to discuss attacks on U.S. forces on American soil. I applaud the diligent work of law enforcement for their continued vigilance and preventing any potential violence before it could occur,” he concluded.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn