A New Jersey resident named Karrem Nasr, who was inspired by the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, was taken into custody in Nairobi, Kenya, two weeks ago and was transported to the United States on Thursday, after attempting to join the al-Shabaab radical Islamist terrorist group.
NASR is a 23-year-old U.S. citizen who moved from New Jersey to Egypt in or about July 2023. NASR is a supporter of al Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization that has attacked Americans and American allies. Since at least in or about November 2023, NASR has repeatedly expressed his desire and plans to join al Shabaab and wage jihad, including in communications with an FBI confidential source (the “CS”), who was posing as a facilitator for terrorist organizations.
In communications exchanged with the CS and postings online, NASR stated that he had been thinking about 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. For example, in communications with the CS, NASR stated that the number one enemy was “evil America,” which he called the “head of the snake.” In recent public social media posts, NASR warned that “Jihad” was “coming soon to a US location near you,” posting airplane, bomb, and fire emojis:
In further communications with the CS, NASR expressed his intent to join al Shabaab to receive military training and engage in jihad, that he was prepared to kill and be killed, and that he specifically aspired to be a martyr for the jihadist cause. Other examples of NASR’s online posts supportive of jihad and terrorist ideology are shown below:
NASR took specific steps to join and receive military training from al Shabaab, including making flight and lodging reservations for travel to Kenya, where he planned to meet members of al Shabaab for further travel to Somalia to join and train with the group. NASR booked a flight for December 14, 2023, from Egypt to Kenya for purposes of ultimately joining and training with al Shabaab. In addition, approximately thze day before his flight, NASR told the CS that he planned to delete data from his cellphone and computer to ensure that if he were detained, law enforcement would not be able to recover evidence of his jihadist activities from those devices. On December 14, 2023, NASR flew from Egypt to Kenya, where he planned to transit into Somalia and join and train with al Shabaab. Later that day, NASR was taken into custody by Kenyan authorities.
NASR, 23, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, is charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “Karrem Nasr traveled across the globe in an alleged attempt to join the ranks of a foreign terrorist organization – an organization that has repeatedly expressed its desire to harm Americans around the world.”
NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said: “Instead of embracing all that the United States had to offer him, Mr. Nasr allegedly moved abroad and committed himself to supporting a foreign terrorist organization. The provision of support to such a group – particularly by an American citizen – is a heinous threat to our entire country and way of life. In the face of this, NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners on the FBI-led New York Joint Terrorism Task Force will remain relentless in our efforts to identify and investigate anyone who so clearly considers our nation their sworn enemy.”