US & Canada

Yemeni man in NYC accused of Islamic State plot

Mohammed Rafik Naji in court Image copyright CBS
Image caption Mr Naji allegedly sent a 'selfie' to his girlfriend while dressed as a member of the so-called Islamic State group.

A Yemeni man living in New York City has been charged with attempting to provide support to the Islamic State group, say US authorities.

Mohammed Rafik Naji, 37, had expressed support for an attack in Times Square, according to a criminal complaint.

The 37-year-old, who lives in Brooklyn, was charged on Monday, said a spokeswoman for the FBI.

Times Square was the site of a failed car bomb attempt in 2010 carried out by a 30-year-old Connecticut resident.

A paid police informant made contact with Mr Naji in August 2015.

Suspicions had been aroused after he flew to Turkey with the alleged ambition of joining Islamic State in Yemen.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Times Square was the target of previous plots

He had emailed his girlfriend while he was away, asking her for money and sending her a "selfie" of himself in black clothing wearing an armoured vest, according to court papers.

When he flew back to New York later in 2015, he remained in contact with the informant and one recorded conversation five days after the Nice attacks led to him being charged.

In that conversation, Mr Naji expressed his support for staging a similar attack - 84 people were killed in France by a lorry driving into crowds celebrating Bastille Day - in New York's Times Square, say prosecutors.

"They want an operation in Times Square, reconnaissance group already put out a scene, the Islamic State already put up scenes of Times Square, you understand," Mr Naji said, according to the court papers.

"I said that was an indication for whoever is smart to know."